The one key thing not said in John Gruber’s lambasting of the idea that competitors will easily be able to copy Apple is that Apple is constantly moving forward with cutting-edge design and manufacturing processes.
It might be true that if Apple stood absolutely still for the next decade, the rivals could potentially catch up in terms of hardware. (In fact, this seems to be at least partially why Apple is suing Samsung; for copying — or trying to copy — older models of their products). But they’re not going to stand still.
I’ve owned Apple products for roughly a decade now (not that long, I know!). In that entire time, I’ve never once seen a competitor’s product in any of the major fields that has topped the product Apple makes in that field (Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc) in terms of aesthetics and build-quality.
Why is that going to change all of a sudden?