Apple doesn’t dominate in most product categories — and that’s a very good thing


In an increasingly tribal world where seemingly everything, including consumer support of trillion-dollar corporations, has turned into unwavering fandom and cheerleading, it’s easy for Apple users to forget that sometimes a moderate success, instead of a home run, is what’s best for everyone involved.

There are arguably two hardware segments where Apple is the dominant product maker — that is to say, the company is believed, by market estimates, to control more than 50 percent of sales. Unofficial sales tallies suggest the iPad owns the tablet space, with a global share at or above 50%, while it has been said that the Apple Watch is the most popular smartwatch in the world.

Just the iPad and Apple Watch — that’s it. In basically every other space — smartphones, computers, smart speakers, streaming set-top boxes — Apple has a respectable share of the market, but is not the dominant player by sales volume or user count.

Even in the headphone market, where AirPods are the most popular completely wireless headphones, you need to dive down to a subcategory to find a way to claim Apple commands the category. Arguing Apple “dominates” the headphone market would be like saying Subway owns more than half of the sandwich business — you’d have to willfully ignore every deli, restaurant and bodega on the planet.

Ultimately, it’s a very good thing that Apple doesn’t crush the opposition in these product categories for two key reasons: regulation, and competition.

You’ll notice that up until now I have only spoken about Apple’s success in selling hardware. What about software and services? A case could be made that Apple’s App Store, which is by far the most profitable mobile software storefront, is an unfair monopoly.

That’s certainly the argument Epic Games has attempted in its ongoing “Fortnite” lawsuit with Apple.

Things aren’t that simple, however. With the App Store, the concept of “market share” is more difficult to quantify, particularly if one compares the App Store to digital software sales beyond Android.

Yes, the App Store routinely trounces the Google Play Store in revenue, as more iPhone and iPad users are willing to pay for software and subscriptions than those…

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