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The Apple computing world is essentially closed, meaning software and hardware work magnificently together, but developers and gadget makers need to ask for Apple's permission to break in. (Since moving to Intel processors in 2006, it's possible to run Windows easily on a Mac, but most consumers don't.)

Meanwhile Apple has brought multitouch track pads, backlit keyboards, and integrated webcams to the mainstream, while its OS X sets the standard for user-friendly software.

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Last updated November 05 2009: 7:56 AM ET
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