Their hardwares are beautiful. Their softwares are simple. Apple is genius. But their genius strategy has good and bad implications.
The first point of attraction is of course the hardware. No Windows machine offers the kind of integrated art/science that Mac machines offer. Mac machines are pleasing to the eye. No wonder, because, at Apple, engineers follow designers.
The second point of attraction is the software. Mac OS is the OS for everyone, really. As a child of Unix, it meets the needs of superusers. Logic and Final Cut make things easy for musicians and directors. Ported Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office Suite serve night owls and early birds. And the easiness and the prettiness of Mac give its users some happiness while they do the things they have to do. This happiness is something Windows could not provide since XP.
I believe this is because Windows, essentially, plateaued since they switched to NT kernel in XP. While this switch generated great happiness to everyone who used PC back then, since then, no significant changes came to Windows. It still had registry problems, firmware problems, driver problems, and other problems that arose from platform fragmentation. Mac, on the other hand, listened to users and got rid of these problems by integrating their products.
Like I wrote before, Mac made things easy and pretty. By integrating their products, by supplying a complete set of pretty hardware and easy software, Apple made it unnecessary for users to get rid of problems. Apple did it for them. Superusers didn't have to search the web for solutions to system problems. Apple supplied all the resources like firmware and drivers in a single disc. Non-superusers didn't have to search for superusers because Apple made installation/uninstallation as simple as drag-and-drop. No registry meant no indexing so Macs didn't require the periodic maintenance that Windows required. So dumb people didn't require smart people to fix their computers.
It sounds like Apple did a good job, but their good job has a bad implication. Apple's "easy and pretty" strategy makes its smart users dumb and dumb users dumber. Macs produce less problems. Less problems means less questions. And less questions mean less intellect. Admittedly, this is a good thing for people who are not technologically inclined and do not care about computer education. They can just focus on doing their jobs on a easy and pretty machine. To those who are technologically inclined and care about computer education, this means a bad thing. With the advent of iOS and Mac App Stores, Apple will reduce the number of hackers in the world.
Of course, I am aware that I am assuming a few things here in making this argument. One of my assumptions is that users first learn about computers by playing with programs. Eventually, after a thousandth time of manual installations/uninstallations, the user would have a basic understanding of how computers behave. They would know some programming and markup languages, even. I believe this is a reasonable assumption about computing. With the App Stores, however, I assume the user would never learn anything about computing. They'd essentially be zombies with credit cards, clicking/tapping icons for an instantaneous amusement. Thus the App Stores will prevent the coming of future generation of hackers.
My argument is that a world of hackers is better than a world of zombies. I have no doubt that capitalists prefer a world of zombies over a world of hackers. Zombies follow the rules, pay for things, and cause no trouble. Hackers, on the other hand, never adhere to the Terms of Agreements, never buy the latest bundle of Windows or the package of Family Guy DVD, and never stop jailbreaking the iDevices. But these seemingly bad things are actually good things. In a world of hackers, all these bad things will result in a net positive instead of negative, for intellectual competition between hackers will yield better intellectual properties for the consumption of the general public. It would mean better trade agreements, better IP laws, better protection of copyrighted materials, and better scrutinization of black hats. Id est, hackers will check and balance themselves. In a world of zombies, on the other hand, the general public will be ruled by an oligopoly of technocrats. It may be a peaceful world, but it will be a stupid world, prone to an insidious exploitation.
My argument, however, is a value judgment. I am perhaps biased against stupefying computer users because I identify myself as a computer geek. Maybe the App Stores are not so bad. Maybe they are the products of computing evolution. Maybe they are the solution for IP violations. By regulating IPs in a closed hegemonic platform and by making this platform too easy and pretty to cultivate hackers, the App Stores solve the problem of piracy and thus create a safe market. And in this market, the consumers gain from the accessibility to products, the producers gain from the protection from piracy, and Apple gains a whopping 30% from every transaction between them. In the Android Market, too, Google gains 30%. It's a win-win-and win for everyone involved, especially Apple and Google. I see a potential problem with this, but not everyone might share the same concern. I leave it up to you to form your own opinion.