Mac/IBM, Opposite Business Models
To really understand the success and quality of Apple/ Mac you have to have to look at the PC as well. It is only by understanding one that the other makes sense. It is then clear why you have two sets of products that do basically the same thing yet can seem so different.
When it comes to Apple/Mac and the PC there is no argument about which one came first. It was certainly the PC developed by IBM. It would be much later that Apple/ Mac would come along. When IBM developed the PC, however, they did something that many people thought was strange and that was that they did not keep it proprietary nor did it have an OS. It ran programs it was just not in the same way we know them today.
By not keeping it proprietary it opened up the market for anyone to make them. This explains why there are so many PC makers like Compaq, Dell, Gateway and the list goes on. Apple/Mac took the opposite approach. The machine they designed could only be made by them and only run their software.
While Apple/Mac had its own OS there was war on the PC front. The Apple/Mac OS worked so well attempts were made to copy it. The first attempts where really just shells over DOS but Windows evolved and took over the PC OS market. The machine makers of PCs also changed to making them for specific markets. PCs are mostly just components in a box, some good and some bad, so you end up with a huge range. These go from PCs using new but outdated parts that where cheap to begin with (for about $100) to the crème de la crème at close to $9000.
During this time Apple/Mac has done thing the other way. They use high quality components that were designed to work together with the OS. The result has been a consistent, high quality product. When you buy a Mac, you know what you are getting and know that it will be stable and work correctly every time.
To compare Mac and the PC is almost like comparing apples (no pun intended) and oranges. If you look at the sales and surveys you can see which one breeds brand loyalty.