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How hard is it to do what Steve Jobs’ company does year after year?

Snell at Macworld. Photo: PED

Jason Snell, the editorial director of Macworld the magazine, asked an interesting question on Day 1 of Macworld the tradeshow, which runs through Saturday in San Francisco.

Why, he asked, aren’t there more companies like Apple (AAPL)?

What he meant by that was companies that build products as simple and elegant as, say, the iPod, that put the needs of users over the enthusiasm of engineers, that are willing to leave out features that don’t meet their exacting standards (Adobe Flash in iOS) or haven’t yet been perfected (cut and paste in the original iPhone), get rid of stuff that is past its prime (floppy drives) and treat advances in science and technology — which can be slow and boring things — like Broadway shows.

“Most companies are so literal minded,” says Snell, “that they don’t realize their products need a showcase.”

He asked his Twitter followers to name companies that are Apple-like and got an interesting list:

  • Nintendo
  • Pixar (!)
  • Dyson
  • Whole Foods
  • Lego

“It takes a lot of courage and vision to do what Apple does,” he concludes. “That’s hard to find in corporate boardrooms and CEOs under pressure to deliver the next quarterly results.”

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]