I just finished reading the biography of Steve Jobs. Aside from being a must read, it told the story of how Apple revolutionized and created the computer industry as well as how Microsoft was able to capitalize on it. For years Microsoft dominated the market with its Windows software while Apple stood around watching and losing market share. Microsoft did exactly with Apple did, steal ideas from another company in order to make their own products better.
Apple stole ideas from IBM and Microsoft stole ideas from Apple.
After the return of Steve Jobs, innovation at Apple pressed on and it was Apple vs. the world once again. They revolutionized the music industry, the walkman industry (you remember the old Sony Walkman right?), the mobile phone industry, and created the tablet industry. There are rumors that they are trying to take on the TV industry and news that Siri is going to be available in cars very soon. They are already starting to change the car industry, is there an industry that they won't touch?
The only problem with innovation is once you come out with something that changes and revolutionizes the industry, everyone tries to follow (and copy) the leader.
Apple now is spending time battling with various companies to try and protect its flagship products and technology. Apple has recently won two court cases in order to stop sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tablet and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone and Microsoft has one taken a page out of Apple's play book. They are coming out with their own tablet that is, wait for it, made by Microsoft.
The beauty of Apple is that they control the entire process of any of the products they develop. This allows them to build systems that connect with each other seamlessly. One of biggest things that Apple is known for is coming out with products that are impeccably designed and work with each other flawlessly.
Most of Microsoft's profits come from its flagship PC products, namely Microsoft Windows and a host of programs included in Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint). Microsoft has a simple business model, comes out with a product and continue to make it better until it dominates the market. They have the ability to throw money at everything to make it the best and enough muscle to make sure that people use their products. It's either buying into a market or creating their own product and improving that product until it's the industry standard.
Want an example of this practice? Stay in your seat, I have a handful. Netscape dominated the Internet browser market until Microsoft began to bundle its Internet Explorer with Windows. Netscape was soon out of business. Microsoft released the gaming console Xbox and later upgraded to the Xbox 360. Sony's Playstation used to dominate that market until Nintendo released their family friendly Wii. Microsoft now sells more Xboxes than Nintendo and are still after the Sony Playstation for the no. 1 position.
The very first Windows programs were horrid in terms of functionality and usability. The only reason they dominate the market is because anyone can license their software. IBM couldn't develop a viable computer software and Apple refused to license their software to anyone.
The New Kid On The Block: Google
The market has changed and since no other companies were able to adapt quick enough, Google was born. They started by dominating the search engine market and are now moving into other business models in order to prepare themselves for the future. Everyone loves Google because they have a simple business model, you can use their stuff for free and click on their adds so they make money with advertising.
Unlike Apple or Microsoft, the concept at Google is to organize the world's information. In order to do this efficiently they are constantly looking for ways to make things faster. The faster they process information the more information they can organize and the more money they can make off ads.
Enter Google Chrome, the fastest Internet browser available today that is eating Microsoft's lunch in the Internet browser market. The updates to Chrome only solidify the fact they are trying to make things faster; you are able to search from the Google chrome address box, instant results on Google search, and the ability to search other websites via the address box (type in youtube.com then tab in the address box to try it for yourself).
Apple vs. Microsoft vs. Google: Round 2 -- Mobile
Apple continues to innovate and the entire world is trying to catch up. Google is the new Microsoft, the new cooler and much improved Microsoft. They are doing the same thing that Microsoft did years ago with the Android mobile operating software, except they are letting you use it for free instead of selling it with a license.
It is the new world order, open source and free vs. expensive and cool. Google just wants you to use their Android software so they can sell you advertising and control the way you see the web. Apple wants you to buy their products because they are designed flawlessly and they are awesome. You saw the PC vs. Mac commercials haven't you?
When the iPhone was released in 2007 they dominated the market, there was nothing in the world like it. Now the only viable competition is the Samsung Galaxy smart phone series that runs on the Android mobile software platform. The iPhone and Android have singlehandedly been responsible for the death of Nokia and Blackberry. Nokia revolutionized the cell phone industry years ago and Blackberry revolutionized the smart phone market after that.
Microsoft is doing what it has always done best: bought its way into the market. It created a partnership with Nokia to run its mobile Windows on all Nokia phones. What Microsoft didn't bet on was the fact that Nokia would die an early death -- they are laying off thousands of employees and losing market share left and right.
I decided early in 2012 to give Blackberry one more chance since I began to start living overseas in Brazil. Blackberry is still what a lot of people use overseas so it will be interesting to see how that changes over time. They came out with the Blackberry Torch (my current phone) which should have been the phone that they came out years ago.
Now that Blackberry is becoming non-existent I have to adapt with the times and move onto Apple or Android. I day trade in the stock market and will be looking for ways to do day trading from mobile. I am currently looking for ways to start day trading via the Apple iPad. All the programs that I use for day trading are only supported by Windows so it will be interesting to see if that changes with the changing market.
iPhone released the iPad which is still dominating the market and the only competition to come close is Samsung with, wait for it, the Android operating software. Microsoft is now taking a play out of Apple's playbook by trying to release their own tablet, the Surface Tablet. Instead of just licensing the software like they usually do they have take a move out of Apple's own play book to try and control everything from beginning to end.
The only problem is that the world has changed and you can't buy into a market anymore. Branding is everything and Microsoft is now viewed as complacent and out of date with consumers. Most corporate companies aren't even upgrading to newer versions of Windows after Microsoft released the unreliable and problematic Windows Vista.
We have witnessed increased production from Microsoft from their windows line to try an catch up with the times; Windows Vista was a mistake, Windows 7 is the fixed Windows Vista, and Windows 8 is how Microsoft is going to try and break into the mobile world.
Apple vs. The World: The Future
It will be interesting to see if Apple can stay ahead of the pack now that the driving engine behind its innovation, Steve Jobs, is gone. Will they be able to continue to innovate? There are rumors that the iPhone 5 is set to be released and also a new iTV product.
Will Microsoft be able to catch up? They still dominate the PC business but how long will that last now that Apple is gaining market share with their signature Mac computers and Google is continuing to release Android products. Google did announce a deal to release a new PC with Acer with its Chromebook operating software for computers.
How will Google continue to innovate to keep things free? They are taking over with their internet explorer, Chome, which now has more users than Firefox. They just announced that you are now able to run Chrome on the Ipad & the Iphone. Google also is dominating the smart phone market by taking the lead from the Iphone with their Android software.
Who do you think will win? I am betting on Apple and Google -- Microsoft, unfortunately is behind the pack. You just can't buy yourself into a market anymore, it's about innovation and branding and Microsoft has lost both.