Yes, Apple's amazing. But I think there's this attitude that nobody can compete with them.
Somebody can. But we're all just too busy looking and marvelling at Apple's astounding success to see that, if just enough insight and resources were given to the R&D departments at a bunch of different companies, similar results could be achieved elsewhere.
Apple was just like other companies 15 years ago. Worse, actually. They were failing in 1997. It was about to go under or be acquired. All Steve Jobs did was return and re-focus the company on products instead of marketing. Granted the focus he brought was perfectionist to a neurotic degree, but those tendencies aren't limited to Apple.
Most companies are not able to move beyond political infighting to coalesce around a goal, let alone the correct goal.
> All Steve Jobs did was return and re-focus the company on products instead of marketing.
Actually, if you take the textbook "four p's" definition of marketing, what Steve Jobs did was take Apple and finally do the marketing right.
Product: The right product in the right place at the right time. No more need be said.
Price: Thanks to Apple's tireless devotion to operations, they can offer that product at a competitive price, even if it has a retina display or a new type of glass that has never been mass produced before or laser-drilled microscopic holes in the bezel to make an indicator disappear.
Promotion: Bringing back Chiat/Day, turning the keynotes and product announcements into major events, and playing the press like a violin.
I think the multi-billion question is, what big thing comes after iPhone and iPad?
This is not a very urgent question at the moment, but one can clearly see that were Apple content to coast on profits from iPod and Macs alone they would still be a profitable company but a shadow of their current self.
My estimate is that it will take 2-3 years for competitors to really start eating into Apple share in phones and tablets. Also, the market will become more mature and people will not rush to upgrade Iphone 6 to Iphone 6s. Or Ipad to new Ipad. I mean once you go retina screen, how do you differentiate the Ipads? Quad core vs Octo core is not going to matter to regular buyer.
Currently Apple has great Operations(Cook) and great Design (Ives), the Vision is under the question mark.