Apple wasn't always the first to the market with technology. I say this because although a lot of people think Apple came out with the first smartphone it was actually IBM who introduced the technology (the device was called Simon), and it had various features such as an address book, calendar, calculator, email service, and a touchscreen; but it was Apple that made the smartphone a hot commodity. Simon was more industrial looking while the IPhone was sexy and had some more bells and whistles.
It was the same with Apple's IPad as Jeff Hawkins, the man who invented the Palm Pilot, also invented the first tablet PC around ten years before the IPad. Once again though, Apple's version was better and came along when there were thousands of applications available; I believe there are over 500,000 now.
So Apple's success was more about branding than technology and Steve Jobs was the master as seen at various conferences and board meetings. His product launches were legendary. Apple was much better at taking a platform of computer design that other companies started with and tacking on value added components and sleek designs to make it sale. The bottom line is if you own Apple products you're cool and you can thank Steve Jobs for that.