(Editor's note: Two EE Times' editors recently sat down for dinner and ended up in a spirited debate over whether Apple can continue to dominate the consumer electronics market.
For EE Times' editor-in-chief Junko Yoshida, who has held the consumer beat at this publication for long time, the state of the consumer electronics industry, especially its future, is deeply troubling.
Business editor Bolaji Ojo, who whiles away the day exhuming -- and making sense of -- the facts and figures buried in financial statements, is now ready to take on Apple, questioning the company's dominance in the future.
The two editors' debate, over a bowl of hot chili, got only hotter as the night wore on. And it never really ended. Here then, for public consumption as a two-part series, is a reprise of that friendly dispute: "Is CE going the Apple way? The case for Apple" by Yoshida; and "Is Apple unstoppable? The case against Apple" by Ojo.)
MANHASSET, NY Apple is already a great consumer electronics company. It's hard to argue against it.
But the $64 million question is whether Apple has also secured its position as a leader of the consumer market in the future.
The smart money is on Apple, not because of Apple's specific future products, but because of Apple's current business model, and its meticulous, disciplined record of execution.
To be sure, Apple has brought a tectonic shift to the industry. Sounds too dramatic? I know. But I mean it.
Apple's iPod, iTune, iPhone and App Store, aren't merely the latest fad fostered by the Cupertino, Calif.-company. Apple has built a new business paradigm, likely to impose lasting effects on the CE industry.
The global adoration of Apple's products and its business model is infectious and unprecedented.
The Consumer Electronics Show -- the world's largest CE industry gathering -- happens every January in Las Vegas, drawing every industry giant into its sphere. But, like Macavity the mystery cat, Apple's not there.
And yet, Apple, which proudly and pointedly shuns CES, has managed to steal the competition's thunder with new products and corporate announcements at every recent CES. Despite being physically absent, Apple dominates conversation on the show floor and in countless panel sessions.
Talk to any executive at any leading consumer electronics company. Many will openly admit to Apple envy. Some even wonder out loud where their company has gone wrong, while Apple has become so successful.
There is no better example than a new service unveiled by Sony Corp. last week.
It's called "Sony Online Service (SOS)." Sony's SOS looks like something straight out of Apple's playbook.
With SOS, Sony's strategy is to achieve differentiation by delivering movies, games and music to their devices -- allowing consumers to buy once and watch or play the same content on TV, mobile phone, or any other gadget bearing the same SOS log-in identity. Sound like Apple's App Store?