What is happening to the technology landscape today? It’s Microsoft, Apple, and Google. All are winning. Only one is losing. As Machiavelli said, “Never wound an enemy, except fatally.”
Robin Bloor on Microsoft vs. Apple in the late 1990s:
Wintel reigned supreme and Microsoft was swimming in its own Kool-Aid. And that’s when Bill Gates put to rest the long running dispute with Apple, over Microsoft Windows infringement of Apple patents. Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple and agreed to develop and ship future versions of Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, and development tools for the Mac.
See? Wounded, but not fatally. After Apple rebounded and sold candy colored Macs by the millions, Bill Gates responded with, “The one thing Apple’s providing now is leadership in colors. It won’t take long for us to catch up with that.”
Well a decade has passed, and the whole of the PC industry still hasn’t caught up with the Apple’s design leadership. There’s no guaranteeing that it ever will. Microsoft should have strangled Apple when it had the chance, but Bill probably thought Apple was dying anyway. The boot is now on the other foot. Microsoft is the wounded animal, not Apple.
What does Microsoft lack that Apple has? A cell phone. A portable platform. It isn’t netbooks. It isn’t Windows Mobile, or Windows Phone, or whatever it will be called next year.
Think back. Microsoft stormed into the computer business and began to eat into the computer industry from below: smaller devices, low entry costs, cheaper software, larger numbers and great margins. That surge was irresistible and it carved out a huge market share as a consequence. Well it’s happening again. But this time the industry being eaten from beneath is the PC industry and right now the vendor that is carving out the territory is Apple – soon to be joined by Google.
Without touching on what Google’s dominance might do to Microsoft’s search engine efforts (with or without the Yahoo! skeleton), Bloor goes out on a limb and predicts an Apple tablet. A netbook? A big cellphone? But not a tablet.
The coup de grâce here will be the Apple tablet… The new Apple tablet will be a big bad iPhone. It will start to consume the laptop market from the get go. It will be what the Netbook should have been, but never was. Apple now has 90 percent of the high-end PC market. It has slaughtered the competition in that area… take a look at the iPhone’s grip on the hearts and minds of consumers and watch what happens to the Apple tablet. It won’t be low volume.
Most of the Apple watchers I know, and I’ll include myself in the group, love to postulate and prognosticate on the future, as well as diagnose the present, and sometimes we diagnose the past. Robin Bloor is predicting the future. It seems to include Apple and Google, but not so much Microsoft. Why?
A new market is about to emerge. Microsoft could have been there and should have been there, but it got complacent – and now it’s nowhere. Arrogance is the curse.
This will be fun.