Following its introduction last week, the idea that the new iPad was "unbeatable" began to get a lot of attention, primarily due to an article in Slate with that very title. Indeed, when seeing a product like the new iPad, it's easy to get swept away -- there's just so much technology wrapped in so beautiful a package for such an unbelievable price that it's almost impossible not to. I get that. But it's not true.
Nothing and no one is unbeatable. Not the iPad. Not Apple.
In an industry of titans, no one has ever seen the next big transition coming. IBM didn't. Microsoft didn't. Sony didn't. HP didn't. Yahoo didn't. Google won't. Facebook won't. And neither will Apple.
The only advantage Apple has is that they've been there before, prior to the second coming of Steve Jobs, when Michael Dell was suggesting they turn off the lights and return the money to the shareholders.
The Mac was beaten. Apple was beaten.
Because of that, I don't think Apple considers themselves or any of their products unbeatable. I think they actively fear the complacency that comes with that kind of thinking.
Apple literally wants to stay hungry and stay foolish in so far as they never settle for what they're doing now and relentlessly explore what they could be doing better in the future. The near future.
Apple is like Balboa after Clubber Lang clobbered him early on in the third Rocky movie. Microsoft took the PC championship from them. They'll never forget that beating and they're working their collective asses off to make sure the same doesn't happen in the rematch.
Like Steve Jobs said in his famous Stanford address, once you know you're going to die, you achieve an amazing clarity. Once you know you can be beaten, you likewise develop an amazing freedom.
They're naked. Not trapped into defending the revenue streams of the past at the expense of future success. Rather they're relentless, almost to a reckless degree, about embracing it.
They ditched the floppy drive in favor of USB and the internet. They obsoleted the iPod with the iPhone. They cut into Mac sales with the iPad.
They've done everything every one of their competitors is terrified to do. And they've done it because they not only know they're beatable, but because they're intent on proving it again and again, year in and year out -- by beating themselves.
Tim Cook said as much during the new iPad keynote, and Steve Jobs has said it before.
That's what makes Apple dangerous.
The knowledge that they're beatable.
In response to: Slate