Friday, April 20, 2012

Apple's "Share"

Seeking Alpha just published a new article, "Is Apple's 'Share' In Jeopardy?" The article discusses profit share as distinct from market share, and the difference between being required to have unit sales share to drive a commodity product strategy and having the luxury of selling a differentiated product. My take: the "share" that makes Apple valuable isn't in danger from unit share competition by low-margin competitors. Also: Apple's supply-chain dominance and vertical integration make it more attractive as a commodity competitor than, say, a Dell. Apple's IP provides a moat Dell lacks.

Comments have been largely favorable, but one comment in particular raised a giggle:
Lamborghini doesn't make an "economy" model to gain the low-end market. Neither does Apple.
I giggle, because L owns one of these:
Granted, it hasn't got the disc brakes and other snazzy features of the Porsche bicycle, but the Lamborghini bicycle certainly exists. The BikerK is right, though: even these bicycles – orders of magnitude cheaper than cars bearing the same nameplates – aren't attempting to "gain" the low-end market. They're just participating in completely different markets.

Compare the iPod, though. Apple migrated from a high-end, top-dollar Mac-only product to a product ecosystem encompassing players with price points scattered from $50 to $300, choking the air out of competitors seeking a safe haven at some low price point from which to stage an assault on Apple's higher-margin product offerings. Ten years on, you can see how that assault has done. Apple's effort to protect its margins from being destroyed by third-party DRM licensing fees resulted in the world's largest music store and the effective destruction of the market for DRM music. Is anyone but Apple making real profit from handheld music players?
And that may be where phones and tablets are going: not the whole market, or even most of the market, but still most of the profit.

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