Apple and Microsoft: Are they really Playing the same Game?

by Chris Seibold Apr 14, 2009

It looks like Microsoft is serious about going after the Mac. And why not? Apple sold 3.5 billion dollars worth of Macs! That is just in the last quarter! Imagine if Microsoft could add 3.5 billion to the coffers, just think where the company would be then! Microsoft would be much bigger than Apple, they'd have more cash and it is a sure bet that Microsoft could have more than 80% of the personal computer market!

The reality is that Microsoft has already won. You couldn't tell that by Microsoft's latest ads that the company dominates the computing landscape, the ads make Microsoft look as though the company is in a real battle for computing dominance. It is a little like Budweiser becoming obsessed with Pete's Wicked Ale. Sure, Pete's has grown over the years but compared to Budweiser... well you get the idea.

For the sake of argument, let us grant that Microsoft's ads will be supremely effective. How effective? We'll just assume that Apple never sells another Mac. Well, we should assume one more MacBook because I know someone who just ordered one. Once that Mac leaves the warehouse, we'll assume zero Macs sold because no one on the freaking planet ever realized you could a PC cheaper than you could get a Mac.

Microsoft wins right? Certainly, Microsoft wins the OS wars game, a game the company has already won but what if Apple is playing a different game now. To put it another way, imagine Apple and Microsoft have been playing hide seek for twenty years. Microsoft has been using night vision goggles and just embarrassing Apple for the lat twenty years. Every now and then Apple wins one by hiding behind Styrofoam or something but the overwhelming trend is for Microsoft to completely dominate Apple.

Then, when it is Microsoft's turn to hide, Apple doesn't bother to look. It isn't out of frustration, Apple has been trying desperately to beat Microsoft for twenty years but Apple has has seen something new and shiny and, like an easily distracted child, has wandered off to investigate this newness.

Microsoft treats Apple's lack of attention as a victory. The company snickers to itself that it has been hiding ten minutes and Apple hasn't even come close to finding it. It gets so bad Microsoft is wondering around telling all the other kids that it can't even see Apple from the place where it's hiding.

Strangely, Apple doesn't care. The shiny thing the company has found is a small gold nugget. At first Apple wasn't sure if it was iron pyrite or a legitimate nugget but after much cleaning and inspection Apple has realized it is a nice sized nugget of gold ore. Apple has also realized that there is a lot more where this came from looking at the striations in the rocks surrounding the find.

In this scenario, the nugget was the iPod and the striations are the iPhone. While Microsoft is busy, fighting over the desktop Apple is busy getting people to carry the desktop with them. If you have an iPod Touch or an iPhone you know how much that product has displaced your laptop. You also realize that for most people an iPod touch or iPhone is enough computer. And this time "enough" is competitively priced.

Five years from now, it won't be Microsoft versus Apple for control of the desktop, that was a game that played out long ago. Five years from now, it will be Apple versus some other phone maker for control of everything. Meanwhile Microsoft will still be in the same hiding place chuckling that Apple can't catch them.



  • Nicely stated!

    Steven Weyhrich had this to say on Apr 14, 2009 Posts: 7
  • Correct. Apple have made a success of the iPhone and the iPod and taken (in the case of portable audio players) a nice 80% of that market, just like MS has in the desktop market. I have seen too many graphic designers who have never used a PC and can’t handle a 2-button mouse (it’s true—I set up some Mighty Mice with 2 buttons and they kept getting context menus on screen when they clicked because they used their whole hand like a prehensile paw!), who struggled moving to OS X from 9… they will keep Apple’s desktop market ticking over.

    Apple’s laptops are the most desirable out there, but MS doesn’t need to crow in ads about the price—we all know. Example: A business I built a web site for opened a second store and want to communicate between the two and use an online order management system I set up. They needed two laptops to be kept on the counter during opening hours. Did we go to Apple? Hell no. How could they justify $2,000 for two laptops used maybe 5 times a day each? It was down to the wholesalers and grab two Compaqs: $1300 for the pair. Size and price mattered most. If the Mac Mini were still $400 I’d have got 2 of them.

    The best thing Apple does is innovate, then evolve. The Mac has been evolving for ten years (after that stall in the mid 90’s), but it’s done. Same with the iPod. Great idea, evolve it, and people keep coming. The iPhone is already into its evolution phase. The big question is, what’s Apple’s next innovation?

    And that’s a lot more compelling than being stuck in that old sandpit with MS, who should really be concentrating on mass-marketing Surface instead of trying to get Apple to return to the desktop wars.

    (Coincidentally, go to Dell and Boxx Tech and price up a dual 5500 series Xeon workstation with specs to match the lowest of the new Mac Pros. Apple’s cheaper)

    evilcat had this to say on Apr 14, 2009 Posts: 66
  • Microsoft is the GM of the tech industry.

    However, to me they will always be the company who cynically supported Bush in 2000 because he was going to let them get away with a mere slap on the wrist after they got convicted for criminal monopolistic acts.  I remember reading back then that pretty much the whole company from Gates all the way down were going for Bush (even though the Republican platform probably made most of them them cringe) because Bush will stop the DoJ from pursuing a break up. 

    In short, to get away with corporate felony, Microsoft sold the country out.

    tundraboy had this to say on Apr 14, 2009 Posts: 132
  • “who should really be concentrating on mass-marketing Surface instead of trying to get Apple to return to the desktop wars.”

    I think that’s where it’s going actually.  The conventional desktop war as we know is long decided.  The fact is that both companies are moving into different territories.  Apple is concentrating on the iPhone.  MS wants to redefine the desktop experience with Surface.  I look forward to both evolutions.  Both make sense and can co-exist.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Apr 14, 2009 Posts: 2220
  • Page 1 of 1 pages
You need log in, or register, in order to comment