Apple's cunning lies in its ability to exploit disruptive technologies and world-class product design to redefine markets other fail to realize, an analyst claims.

Indeed, the success of Apple's music products is a clear example of how the company is capable of using the power of "being second to market", observes Harvard Business School in a report published last night.

"The innovative computer company that has become a leading force in the music space appears to have built a core strength around figuring out how to succeed at being a deliberate and very smart second (or even third) to market," this report explains.

Cat bird seat

It points to a variety of products Apple has bought to market before anyone else (including the graphical-user interface), warning the company has "rarely succeeded" when it has moved first.

However, when Apple enters markets others are exploring it's consistently able to reach consumers that competitors have failed to touch, "though the virtues of good design, ease of use, clever marketing, and smart distribution".

GarageBand revolution prediction?

The report looks at Apple's introduction of GarageBand as a case in point, saying: "In addition to clearly disrupting the desktop studio production environment with such products as GarageBand, Apple continues to expand toward new media markets."

It also predicts Apple will implement features within its iTunes software to help encourage more use of its music production software.

"Apple has also received multiple requests to release, through its iTunes service, new music that can be edited using GarageBand. If Apple decides to go this route, we can expect another round of explosive, new-market growth in desktop studio production, no doubt handled with the same savvy attention to marketing, design, and ease of use that the company has recently displayed."