Time marches on. It seems like just yesterday that Apple was beleaguered and near death and it was Microsoft’s blitzkrieg that was marching Windows across the technology landscape.
In a remarkable turn of events, it’s Apple that is now perching atop the technology industry with a broad and deep arrange of highly evolved and well integrated products and services that command the attention of many tens of millions of customers.
As Apple languished in the late 1990s and flirted with obscurity, it is now Microsoft which shows serious signs of decay; a sort of electronic dysfunction, if you will; one sufficiently advanced that more testosterone or Viagra cannot cure.
How did this happen? How is it that Apple has arisen from despair and near death to overcome a long time nemesis which seemingly had beaten Apple at every turn?
Three words. Focus. And Steve Jobs.
When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 he propped up the Mac and began to work on the next great thing. In the decade or so since, Apple launched iTunes, iPod, iTunes Store, Macs with Intel Inside, iPhone, and iPad, the latter two of which provide more revenue and profits that the entire Mac line.
What of Microsoft? Over the same period of time, Microsoft, under testosterone flavored CEO Steve Ballmer, played the part of the hare to Apple’s tortoise. The Windows maker sat quietly, counting their Windows and Office profits, and proclaimed ownership of the technology world because of their 90-percent monopoly on PCs.
Meanwhile, Apple plodded along, and launched hit product after hit product. Windows 8 may be the best Windows version ever, but there are no lines to buy the new formerly-known-as-Metro Windows model. Windows Phone may be the best smart phone OS Microsoft has ever produced, but buyers do not line up to touch and feel and take home.
The best Microsoft can say about the new Surface tablet with Windows RT is that sales are modest. In short, Microsoft’s efforts to advance the Windows hegemony into mobile devices has been met with a big yawn buy potential customers. The many and varied problems that Windows heaped upon their captive customer base have created a kind of Microsoft fatigue; a weariness that predisposes potential buyers from even bothering with anything that carries the Microsoft name.
As I said, time marches on. It’s unlikely that this battle of the ages between two technology giants will end any time soon. If Apple can rise from the ashes, so can Microsoft. Today, though, Microsoft faces challenges unlike any in the company’s history. Google on search and advertising. Apple, Google, Samsung, Amazon and others on tablets and smart phones.
Now matter how you look at it, Microsoft descends while Apple ascends.