Maybe I phrased it wrong. What I mean is: Apple is not really relying on best specs, best technology anymore. Just like Gucci doesn't have to come with totally new bag all the time. And that makes sense as they won't be able to be the best all the time.
Just as long as they are perceived to be the best by their loyal fanbase, they will do well. That's also why a smart watch (very much a fashion item) is so important to the lineup. Or white headbuds. It's all to build brand. It doesn't have to be the best, just perceived to be.
First off, thank you for your considered response; that's getting pretty rare around here...
Actually, Apple is almost never the "first" to employ a new technology or adopt a new standard. They actually shy away a bit from the "bleeding edge" (while still maintaining a cachet of "innovative" and "ahead of the curve").
What they are masters at is waiting until a technology/standard/product niche is getting popular (e.g., WiFi, Music Players, Small-form-factor Desktops, Netbooks, Smartphones) and then "re-imagining it" with a distinctive flair and usability-level that is consistently far above the pack.
Often, these improvements come with a "fit and finish" factor that is often mistaken for "Fashion for Fashion's sake" (Apple Watch notwithstanding. They freely admit to it being a "fashion accessory"); but actually just looks that way because the competition so often ignores the aesthetic appeal of good industrial design (how many creaky brittle plastic laptops have we all suffered?), or which have some bizarro Asian idea of "fashionable"? (Not picking on Asian product design; but it is just "different" from what most "Westerners" think looks "classy")...
But make no mistake: Along with the "classy" industrial design is real, solid product engineering, both hardware and software. And that is what seems to escape so many in the Slashdot crowd, who seem to almost universally seem to place price over value (and who seem to, at the same time, incredibly value the cost of their time at zero).
I get my "tinkering"-Jones satisfied by being an embedded developer; my computer is a tool, like my oscilloscope, various meters and my Zircon-encrusted tweezers, and I want my tools to "just work".
And in my nearly four decades as a professional embedded developer (software and hardware), Apple products deliver on that promise far more consistently (nothing's perfect!), both in and out of the lab, than what my non-Apple-oriented friends and colleagues seem to experience (which looks a lot like "suffering" to me).
And that, my friend, is the very height of "geek-chic"; at least to me.