It's not just businesses that want to avoid risk. Ordinary people are essentially herd animals and want to do what they think all the other people around them are doing. The IBM PC had a much larger marketing budget and greater "mind share" than competing products; only Apple was able over time to build a defensible brand based (ironically) not on technological superiority but on emotional appeal. Jobs at a visceral level realized that if he could make people think owning an Apple product made them desirable, he could create niches that the PC could less readily dominate. And so for years Apple limped along in its narrow niche until the iPhone, which enabled it to break out of the personal computing space into the mass market for consumer devices. In the end, people nearly always buy on the basis of emotion and notional gain (IBM = avoiding risk of censure; Apple = nerd transformed into cool dude) rather than on any coherent rational basis. We should just be grateful that IBM didn't try to persuade us to use slate and chalk because "nobody ever got fired using slate and chalk."

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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