So. Following up on the heels of my last bit, how, specifically, does Apple Inc. avoid the stigma of monopoly?
The answer to this is not that difficult, so long as you are able to accurately answer the question: what does Apple do, anyway?
To be fair, it took Apple itself a long time to figure this out.
Apple delivers content.
It does so by delivering its content with hardware that is specifically taylored to make its content easily accessible to the people who want the content. In some cases, Apple creates its own content (OS X, iLife, etc.), but in most other cases, Apple is delivering other people's content the way they want it: easy.
Apple is in some ways analogous to Ma Bell or Time Warner, in that it has created a means of moving data from one place to another, but it has outsmarted the monopoly bitches by ensuring that the means of delivery is an object that the individual owns rather than something a they own.
So long as individuals buy a computer or an iPod or an iPhone and use it as they see fit, there is no chance that Apple will have to take the hard knocks of monopolist corps. People cheer and applaud when invisible cables buried underneath the ground are taken from companies by the government and are then used by by other people to give you lower prices.
Are you going to cheer if the government takes your iPod from you and forces you to let your neighbor rent it to someone else and pay you a dollar a month after you spent 400 bucks on it?
No. You won't let that happen. That iPod is yours, dammit. Apple has changed the economy of content delivery. Apple has taken the large, abstract, cloud out of the equation and put the pipe in your hands.
So that's how it goes with the iPod. Who gives a shit about that anyway? iPods have been around for years, and only a few people complain. What does this have to do with the iPhone, Ma Bell, monopolies, or THE GODDAMM PRICE CUT?!