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Small Companies Can’t Play by Apple’s Rules

Haje Jan Kamps, writing for TechCrunch:

Walking into my first ever meeting with a structural packaging designer, I started rooting around in my bag before exclaiming, “This is the sort of thing I want!” She leaned forward in her chair, delighted to have a customer with a strong guide, then groaned audibly when she saw what I had placed on the table: the packaging from my new iPhone.

“You can have anything you want,” she countered, “but if you want your packaging to look and feel like Apple’s, you’ll have to increase the unit cost for your packaging by 10x.”

Packaging is just one example — there are dozens — of why Apple is a rank outlier in almost every way. Or, put differently: Using the Cupertino-based company as your template for how to build a startup is not a great idea.

Kamps’ piece is a fascinating exploration into why it’s not so easy to follow Apple’s lead – and why, in many cases, a company shouldn’t even try. Some of the benefits that come with having a quarter-trillion dollars in the bank, and manufacturing products at massive scale, are completely unattainable for nearly every other company in the world.