But Apple's radical opacity hasn't hurt the company — rather, the approach has been critical to its success, allowing the company to attack new product categories and grab market share before competitors wake up. It took Apple nearly three years to develop the iPhone in secret; that was a three-year head start on rivals. Likewise, while there are dozens of iPod knockoffs, they have hit the market just as Apple has rendered them obsolete. For example, Microsoft introduced the Zune 2, with its iPod-like touch-sensitive scroll wheel, in October 2007, a month after Apple announced it was moving toward a new interface for the iPod touch. Apple has been known to poke fun at its rivals' catch-up strategies. The company announced Tiger, the latest version of its operating system, with posters taunting, REDMOND, START YOUR PHOTOCOPIERS.)
Apple is an evil genius, if you believe this article. It makes many good points, and though long is well worth the read.