Apple's core competency is innovative design and technology

It's no surprise that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) crushed its fourth-quarter earnings estimate. The company delivered earnings of $1.67 billion, up 47% from last year on an earnings-per-share basis. To understand why Apple's crushed earnings predictions were no shock, take a look at the business model that telegraphed the punches behind what Apple called its most profitable quarter ever.

Think different
Apple's core competency is innovative design and technology. That's the spirit behind its famous "Think Different" ad campaign. Apple introduces products that truly wow the market. Think back to the Macintosh in 1984 -- the first affordable computer with a graphical user interface (GUI). Today, the iPhone challenges the definition of a phone, by combining a portable digital media player, Internet client, GPS navigator, camera, and ... um ... oh yeah, a phone. Not only does Apple wow consumers, but it changes the way we think about consumer electronics.

Buy different
Apple doesn't just want you to think differently about their products. It wants you to redefine the buying experience. Visit an Apple store, and you'd almost think that it was designed more to create a clubhouse for Apple enthusiasts than to actually sell the company's products. Consumers enter a store, check out Apple's new products, attend a workshop, and sit in on a presentation or in-store concert. Get immersed in the Apple culture, and when you're ready, Apple will sell you a piece of the experience to take with you. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) wants to create a similar experience with its own chain of stores. Good luck with that, Mr. Softy.

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