Apple's edge has always been in design. The biggest draw for most Apple fanatics is how sleek and beautiful their products are. Apple is always looking for new ways to improve the user experience, without ever skimping on quality or aesthetics.
Apple only has the rabid fans they do, because of their consistency in quality. Apple fans can trust that they should get excited about the company's next big product launch. The company may not always be the first to introduce new technology, like MP3 players, touch-screen phones or tablet PCs, but they are consistently able to bring their irresistible Apple flavor to each device, and can usually popularize the technology better than any of their competition.
Up until recently, Apple's innovative design came at a high cost, a barrier which many consumers could not surmount. However, the market tides have changed, and Apple's products are not only surpassing its competition in design, but now also in price. Analysts suggest that Apple is using its considerable manufacturing weight to cut cost for parts.
In 2005, the company struck a $1.25 billion deal with manufacturers to secure flash memory chips for its iPods and upcoming devices. They recently locked in a similar deal with manufacturers of the thin, durable aluminum chassis for their popular MacBook Air. With a reported value of $82 billion in cash and securities, it's not surprising that Apple is cornering the manufacturing market.
One example of of the price gap closing is with one of Apple's most popular products, the iPhone. The latest version of the Apple smart phone, the iPhone 4S, was available to the public for $199 and a two-year service contract with the carrier of their choice. It's not exactly a bargain, and there are certainly less expensive smart phones available to consumers, but those devices tend to have less features and/or use older technology.
Comparable smart phones couldn't quite meet the $199 price tag of Apple's latest device. The T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy SII came in close second, at $230 with a two-year contract. At $260 and a two-year service contract, buyers could get their hands on an HTC Amaze 4G, also from T-Mobile. Alternatively, Verizon Wireless is offering their Motorola Droid Bionic with a two-year service contract for a whopping $300.
The MacBook Air is another example where Apple is giving its competition a run for their money. The MacBook Air was one of the most innovative pieces of technology Apple has released to date. The notebook is incredibly thin and light in weight, due to the unique material used and simple design.
This notebook also stands apart as one of the most durable portable PCs on the market. It uses stationary flash memory, as opposed to the traditional spinning hard-drive, which means less chance of parts breaking.
The 11-inch MacBook Air starts at a mere $999. Like the iPod, a large part of the reason Apple is able to offer this notebook for such a low price, is that the company cornered the market on the type of material used to build the ultra-thin casing of the notebook. On October 11, 2011, a Taiwanese computer company, called Asus introduced a comparable Windows-based ultra-thin notebook, but were unable to undercut Apple's prices.
The Asus notebook is available for $999, the same cost of the MacBook Air. Only one notebook manufacturer has been able to offer a similar product at a lower price. At $899, Acer has developed an ultra-thin, lightweight notebook, which actually has a bigger screen than the MacBook Air, called the Aspire S series.