Why Can’t Companies Compete with Apple Category Leaders? Dell Adamo Ultrathin Notebook Bites the Dust

I have neither evaluated the dell Adamo thin notebook or closely followed the model line. I mention it here, however, as an example of the someone odd inability of otherwise competent and successful companies to effective compete with Apple’s product categories.

Dell Adamo, spunky MacBook Air rival, is no more

Dell Adamo product line failure may be even more puzzling because Dell had ultrathin notebooks years before Apple launched the first Air models (which created a buzz but did not sell well). Dell’s Latitude X1 was extremely thin and light but suffered from a battery life of about 90 minutes (on a good day).

Apple doesn’t create product categories, it redefines them and makes them successsful sellers. And, even Apple doesn’t get it right on the firs try all the time. Here are some of Apple’s category redefiners.

– iPod: MP3 players were in a race to the bottom with terrible user interfaces when Apple came along with its expensive, high capacity iPod which featured the unique and useable clickwheel.
– iPhone: Touchscreens (actually resistive screens that required a stylus) were being phased out of phones by 2007 as most manufacturers settled in on either emulating RIM’s Blackberry with a thumb keyboard or Nokia’s soapbar form factor. Now, RIM has touchscreen models and Nokia is scrambling to survive.
– Apple TV: The first and second generation models were interesting but did not become popular. The 2010 Apple TV, on the other hand, took off with its low price ($100) and easy to use Internet TV access. This is one exception to the rule since firms like Roku have produced highly competitive products.
– iPad: Tablet computers had struggled in their tiny vertical market niches for a decade. The iPad redefined how people think about and use tablet computers and managed to destroy the low-end netbook market too,.
– MacBook Air: The first models generated interest but not much sales because of their high price and low processing power. The 2010 model with its $1000 starting price and relatively high performance took what was left of the netbook market and ultralight notebook market.

With the exception of the Apple TV, none of Apple’s competitors have mounted effective attacks on Apple’s category leaders.