This is the first of a multi-part blog series where I discuss Microsoft’s battle on 3 fronts with 3 of its most important strategic competitors. I believe everyone knows which 2 companies Microsoft are competing against on the first two fronts, but very few pundits seem to have caught on as to how important, strategic and exciting the the 3rd front is going to be and who Microsoft is competing against there.
I exclude Linux from this discussion, not because it hasn’t made important inroads, but because I’d like to focus on the competition between mega-corporations shepherding the development of technologies with the purpose of dominating market share for a particular niche, rather than “headless” guerilla movements which are more about individuals banding together for the sake of fun and art.
The first front has been with us for the longest time and is the most obvious of them all. It is, of course, the battle for who gets to supply or control the operating sytem that the world uses. Microsoft’s success and dominance in this area with Windows(tm) has arguably set a standard for which to measure complete victory for any kind of endeavour.
As of late though, Apple has been challenging that victory. With OS X and Intel-based Macs, Apple has taken more market share in the operating system space from Microsoft than any company has ever done in history. Still, that market share is a single digit one.
Its puerile ad campaigns notwithstanding, Apple does not really seem serious about so-called world domination. Steve Ballmer made an interview comment about how “Apple has its niche, and we have ours”, and he seems to be implying here that Apple, with their appeal to elitism, will always be confined to a minority niche. Looking at Apple’s outrageous pricing for their machines, I can’t help but agree with his observation, and if OS X market share even cracks 10% (figures which do not factor in Mac users dual booting into Microsoft Windows should be adjusted downwards, just to be wonkish), I will be extremely impressed.
Since all we read in the press as of late is about how Apple ads trounce Windows ads for being hipper, I would like to conclude here that the OS battle has obviously degenerated into boring and meaningless fanboy smearfest trivialities. Until Apple halves the price of its machines and/or lets OS X run on commodity hardware, it will always be the case that Apple’s market share remains an elite niche garnered and maintained mainly through marketing smoke and mirrors.
To conclude, I just find it unimaginable that Apple or anyone else will ever really claim victory over Microsoft. In fact, it is quite plausible that the whole idea of fighting for OS market share will become irrelevant before anyone can “take over” from Microsoft, which is a key point I will be trying to make later on in this series.