Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Analyst: Apple is a full year ahead of competition

January 9, 2008: 8:02 AM ET

picture-1.jpgAs Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster walked the floors of the 2008 Consumer Electronics show he, like many other attendees, found himself thinking about Apple (AAPL) and Steve Jobs.

"While Apple was not at the show," he writes today in a report to clients, "the company's impact is felt at CES."

Signs of the company's influence, he says, were evident in three broad areas:

  • Hardware design. "The simple, industrial design that began with the iPod and has carried over to Apple's Macs and the iPhone, is a general trend that we see in CE devices. iMac-like all-in-one desktop computers from Dell and Gateway, for example, are two instances of other device makers following Apple's lead."
  • Touchscreen devices. "Apple's iPhone represents a consumer-ready level of maturity for touchscreen devices... Touchscreen device makers like Samsung are following Apple's lead, but we believe Apple is significantly ahead of other device makers (except perhaps Microsoft)."
  • Ecosystem connectivity. "Apple's closed iTunes+iPod ecosystem has enabled the company to set the bar in terms of hardware and software integration... This year at CES several companies are pushing to catch Apple in terms of connectivity. Such products included the Sandisk Take TV, wireless streamers, and other connected entertainment devices that offer a non-iTunes competitor to Apple's entertainment ecosystem."

Like CES 2007, when the buzz of the show was the soon-to-be-unveiled iPhone, much of the talk this week in Las Vegas was about what might be coming next week in San Francisco.

As Munster puts it:

"We expect Apple's Macworld announcements (1/15) to set the bar for CES '09 -- in other words, we see Apple as effectively one year ahead of its competition."

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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