Everybody loves the underdog -- until it comes out on top
Was there any doubt that this company would come up at the top of the list? Apple has traditionally aimed its incredibly skillful marketing at weirdos and outsiders (or at least creative hippie-yuppie types who thought of themselves as such). For much of the 1990s and 2000s, the company made a virtue out of necessity, casting its single-digit market share as a sign that it built computers for the rest of us. Macs were always disproportionately beloved by reporters and others in the media, so they maintained a profile that far outpaced their actual market penetration. The company itself was so close to the edge in the late '90s that Microsoft ended up investing millions in the company, seemingly just to maintain a fig leaf of competition for the antitrust regulators.
But then came the runaway success of the iPod, the growth of iTunes as a controlling factor in the emerging digital music market, and the game-changing iPhone, and Apple found itself with Microsoft-Sized chunks of new markets. And suddenly behavior that was endearing in an underdog -- obsessive attention to the user experience to the extent of telling third-parties exactly how they'll be allowed to write code for Apple products, for instance -- began to look downright monopolistic. Now the anti-Apple cries, especially regarding access to iPhone OS for Flash and other non-Objective-C languages, have become a chorus.
Picture courtesy of Flickr user -nathan