It's seemed to me for a while that, intentionally or not, Canonical is headed down the same road as Apple. They are making similar UI decisions, they are focusing on similar platforms (ie: mobile and laptop are important, desktop and server are not), and they are chasing similar users (the technically less savvy).
There is a niche there, to be sure. The problem for Canonical, though, is that they may not be able to follow where Apple is going. Apple is heading for completely locked down appliance computing; to Apple, the future looks more like the iPad than it does the iMac. Apple makes its own hardware and their most profitable products are locked-down mobile devices, so it can drive the changes it wants to see.
Canonical doesn't have that.
On OSX, you can look at the UI damage they are doing to their desktop experience as part of a process of migrating all their users to locked-down appliances. As someone forced to use an OSX machine on a regular basis, the user experience since 10.4 has been one of gradual decay and dumbing down, culminating (so far) in things like the LauchPad launcher (which is basically the iPad launcher for your mac). Many of the banner features of Lion only make sense on a single-screen touch-enabled device.
Apple is also about to start enforcing sandboxing in everything that sells through the mac app store.
You can see where it ends; it's a fairly obvious strategy to funnel all their users into locked-down computing appliances. I think we're a few product generations away from Apple ceasing to sell "personal computers" to the general public. Whether they stop making them for app-developers or not is a question of whether they can get xcode to play nicely in the sandbox.
We're probably ten years away from that, but that's where Apple is headed, at least currently. They've long since decided that the professional market is worth a tiny fraction of the nonprofessional mass market.
Again, I don't see how Canonical can follow them there. People will still be trying to install Ubuntu on general purpose PCs, unless Canonical pulls support for that. Apple can drive their customers to locked down consumer appliance computing simply by adjusting their product lineup, but Canonical is at the mercy of whatever the downloader wants to install on.
I do think Apple is a very bad role model here, one that too many projects are following. What Apple is doing works very well for Apple, but in order to reap the benefits, you have to be completely vertically integrated the way Apple is.
Beyond that, Apple's designer-driven appliance computing model is one that I personally find unfortunate, the lasting effects of which are going to be very hard to shake off.
Aside: please, no more "David and Goliath" analogies.
The story of David and Goliath is a terrible analogy; people take it as a story of the triumph of faith over certain doom, when it's really quite the opposite. It's a story about an intelligent fighter winning a battle by choosing not to fight on his opponent's terms. If you'd actually been there for the battle between the two, you would not have been surprised in the least by the outcome.
I once took a course that considered ancient stories (the old testament, the illiad, the viking sagas...) as flawed but useful mirrors on the past. Part of the thesis of the course was that you could tell a lot about what a society was like by the things they glossed over, since that's what the authors would have assumed to be common knowledge in their readers.
When we got to the story of David and Goliath, I remember the prof pointing out a couple of things; David was a shepherd in a time when one of the jobs of a shepherd was to keep wolves and lions from eating the sheep. The sling he used would have been a full-sized fighting sling capable of throwing a fist-sized stone hard enough to seriously inconvenience a lion at range. Those slings are shockingly accurate as well, once you get good with them. The prof from the course was a farm boy growing up, and he said it only took him a couple of months of practice to get good enough to cut a sparrow out of the air mid-flight.
David (sensibly) refused armor and a heavy weapon. So, you have an unarmored (and thus quick), agile person with a powerful ranged weapon.
On the other side, you have a beefy guy in bronze armor with a thrusting spear. Not a throwing spear, a spear that you hold onto and stab someone with.
The fight started at range.
I'd have bet on the lightly-armored nimble guy with the powerful ranged weapon, personally, rather than the slow stabber. If David had taken the heavy weapons and armor he'd been offered (and with which he was untrained), and engaged in a close-quarters battle with Goliath, the story would have ended very differently.