John Huber has some great thoughts about Apple being a consumer brand. From the 2016 Review letter:
As I visited stores, talked to
consumers, studied their ecosystem, and considered the competition, I eventually came to the
conclusion that Apple shouldn’t be analyzed as a computer hardware manufacturer, it should be
thought of as a consumer brand.
Consumer brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, or Starbucks all do somewhat similar things: they buy
commodities (their raw materials) and sell brands. Nike’s shoes and shirts might be nice, but the
material isn’t all that different than Russell’s or Champion’s, but you may not have even heard of the
latter two companies and you likely have paid a 100% markup or more for Nike gear. The
commodity material is similar, but Nike gets its 50% gross margins thanks to the brand that it has
built over time.