apart from the off-line marketing
You're kidding. Right?
Let me get this straight. A competitor puts out ten or twenty (or fifty) million offline to drive traffic directly to their site or into their stores. And we're just going to ignore that. We're going to assume that doesn't matter.
his shop can't compete
Death on the web is Monkey-see, monkey-do. The reason is that is the easiest route the unimaginative take. Competition means competitive advantages -- key differentiators that set you apart from "me too" competitors.
You do not "compete" with a full-on frontal assault on an entrenched competitor. What happens isn't that you take any of their market share. A million little nobodies split up what's left over.
Obviously top-notch, super-fast reliable servers and a team of people keeping the content up to date, but what else??
Get into an emerging market early and be the last one standing after a decade of monkey-see monkey-do competitors bit the dust. So step one: Fire up your time machine.
Either that or find a wide open market to be first in. Get close to the customer. And stay close to the customer.
Apple enters seemingly entrenched markets. They get find out what inbred, unimaginative competitors miss (almost entirely on the human factors end -- Apple "invents" little technology: Not the scroll wheel, they didn't invent MP3 players, they didn't invent tablets or touch screen phones).
They take a dozen or so off-the-shelf technologies, refine and reiterate the design, and then blitz the market with Design Driven Business strategies and tactics. And they do this when everybody -- and I mean everybody -- focuses on technology and cost cutting. (Because as entrenched competitors they "Know" the market is maturing).
Competitors hire graphic artists to make products look pretty just before launch. Technology, manufacturing, and bean counters dictate to designers and apply a hundred constraints.
Apple makes technologists realize the vision of an ambitious design. Other companies slap a logo on a case, Apple brands through design.
That's why every single Apple product for the last decade is pronounced dead-on-arrival, most especially by entrenched competition. When you ask the technologists about Apple before they enter the market, all Apple ideas are marketing fiascoes. Five years later, the very same people say Apple is all about marketing.
When you look at how the technologists develop products, it's reminiscent of 1950's era business. (They look at an Amazon and all they see is servers and IT personnel) Apple is a twenty-first century company with mid-twentieth century competition.