John Gruber, in a splendid essay today:
“I’ve always been interested in Apple’s products because of their superior design; the business side of the company was never of as much interest. But at this point, it seems clear to me that however superior Apple’s design is, it’s their business and operations strength — the Cook side of the equation — that is furthest ahead of their competition, and the more sustainable advantage. It cannot be copied without going through the same sort of decade-long process that Apple went through.”
Apple now not only sets the industry standard for design, but also makes them cheaper than any comparable PC manufacturer. Read the whole essay, but especially the final three paragraphs.