A good interview with Steve Jobs on Business Week.
I get asked a lot why Apple’s customers are so loyal. It’s not because they belong to the Church of Mac! That’s ridiculous.
It’s because when you buy our products, and three months later you get stuck on something, you quickly figure out [how to get past it]. And you think, “Wow, someone over there at Apple actually thought of this!” And then three months later you try to do something you hadn’t tried before, and it works, and you think “Hey, they thought of that, too.” And then six months later it happens again. There’s almost no product in the world that you have that experience with, but you have it with a Mac. And you have it with an iPod.
Jason Kottke also links to that interview and compares Apple to a luxury brand. I almost agree. Lets make the comparison with cars instead. Apple would be like BMW or Mercedes, not like Bentley (which I would call a luxury brand like Guccy). Bentley makes cars that have some more details and quality items than a top of the line bimmer but mainly, you pay for prestige, not for incredible quality and better performance.
Honda sells cheap(ish) cars and higher end cars through Acura. BMW only sells the high end cars but competes on price with Acura*. That’s what Apple does, only high market** products but competitive with Dell or HP’s high market offering. (cheaper actually)
You buy a Mac like you buy a BMW, for the little details, quality and experience, not (only) for prestige like Gucci or Bentley.
*Haven’t looked at prices lately so there might be wider differences than I think but I’m sure you get the gist of it, as opposed to the Bentley.
**iMacs and iBooks aren’t all that high market per se but compare to the cheapest possible PCs and you see why I use the term.