It’s starting to seem like Harley Davidson and Apple may have something in common. What? Leather clad riders on their American made V-Twins blasting down the highway and trendy folks using their iPhones for, well, … just about everything, what could they have in common? OK, forget the people using their products, how about the companies? One company cutting costs and barely hanging on while the other sells boat loads of product making huge profits in the process, old school heavy industry versus high tech, … I could go on and on. They’re obviously complete opposites, but, there is something that shows some similarity and it has to do with their competition.
If you’re an iPhone user, you may be one of those true believers who waited in line to get their iPhone 3 then immediately traded it for an iPhone 4 when those came out. Apple could hardly make them fast enough and fan boys scooped them up. It’s a really slick piece of high tech. With a cult following and a huge lead and enormous market share, (sound like Harley?) who could challenge the iPhone for dominance. Apple has been around forever (like Harley?), in computer years anyway, no upstart could ever have hoped to dent the insurmountable lead, … right up until the Android based smartphones popped up. Users found it could do pretty much everything the iPhone could and sometimes more, they told their friends, more Android phones were sold and right now, iPhone is fast falling behind. Not long ago if you predicted that, everyone would have pointed at you and laughed. No one’s laughing now, especially not at Apple. Hmm …
The reason I bring this up is a couple of comments on the post about Polaris buying Indian brought the same response. Harley is smiling at the upstart, maybe even laughing. Who do they think they are? Harley has devoted customers, or at least they used to, right now they’re just hanging on and even Keith Wandell admits 2011 will be a tough year. Harley is making a little money from its financial operations but they have a long slow road ahead.
Polaris on the other hand, is actually making money selling things they build. Imagine that! After buying Indian last week, just yesterday, they finalized an agreement to buy GEM (Global Electric Motorcars), an electric vehicle manufacturer. Polaris is growing. They’re making money in product lines other than motorcycles. They could get serious with Indian, another old time American motorcycle brand, putting resources into it and then show Harley some real competition. Harley doesn’t have a lot of bullets left, right now. If Polaris is serious, they could do some real damage to Harley’s market share. Interesting to think about.