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Microsoft VS Apple – a battle of giants and ecosystems

24 July 2011 / 13:07:16  GRReporter
5543 reads

Ivan Petkov


Every cliche has become one because the idea that it contains within itself is universally valid. Maybe you are tired of constantly reading how the world becomes more global, how everything integrates and aggregates; how every sphere of life is not only influenced by everything around it, but also mixes all sorts of ideas appear. There was an area which until recently stood aside, although we are used to hearing about it as an example of rapid development - this is the computer hardware and the accompanying it software - the operating system.

Until recently, it seemed that everything in this segment was just a doubling of computing power, a mad but predictable race of megahertz, nanometers, transistors and operating systems to harness and use that power. Behind the hardware and the software stood well known players who had their model of delivering their products, maintaining a seemingly balance. First, this balance was broken by Apple. Cupertino’s nibbled apple offered a range of products, each of which combines hardware and software from the same manufacturer. The change came with the advent of the iPod, followed by the iPhone and iPad. People started speaking about an ecosystem of products. Things changed so much that some people also began to talk about changing our understanding of the computer, saying that if we consider the number of iPad tablets sold, Apple may turn out to be one of the largest hardware manufacturers. Literally, this week it became clear that for the last quarter, for the first time Apple overtook in terms of sales the smartphones of Nokia, having sold a record number of iPhones - more than 20 million units. It was clear to all that many of the Nokia models, which are considered to be smartphones are actually laying quite behind from the modern notion and opportunities offered by the smartphones. But statistics is statistics - it does not account for quality but quantity.

So, currently Apple are the kings, the undisputed leader, which offers a range of products or an ecosystem of products that meet the needs of the average consumer.

Microsoft - we used to think of the giant from Redmant, as of the invincible monopoly that whatever mistakes it made over the years, it managed to retain its unappealable leadership in the operating systems. No matter how much criticism the company received, it is undeniable that if there was a better and easier to use product than Windows, it would have gained ground. Let us remember the emergence of netbook computers in a time when Microsoft wanted to retire Windows XP, and Windows Vista had too big requirements to run on this type of devices. Alternatives such as various Linux distributions could not be imposed, despite the lack of competition from Microsoft. A year later, Redmond had regained over 90% of this segment of devices, and before this most of the users installed Windows XP on their netbooks, although illegally, due to the lack of supply of the legal version. I say all this to illustrate to what extend Windows has become synonymous with operating system to the general public.

But let’s get back to the ecosystem. It seems that Microsoft, although they were among the first companies that had a mobile operating system, slept through the emergence of new generations of smartphones and fall behind the competition. The same scenario happened with the tablets. It turned out that for several years now, the leader in operating systems can not offer a competitive mobile operating system for smartphones, and there is no operating system for the tablets!

But with all its slowness and lack of vision for the development of the market, Microsoft has its strengths - they have repeatedly demonstrated that though a little slow, eventually they always find the right way to conquer the market and offer a mass product. Windows Phone, the mobile operating system of Microsoft is being developed and this fall it will get closer in terms of quality and functionality to its biggest competitors - iOS Apple and Android by Google. For the tablets, the situation is even more promising! When everyone expected Microsoft to follow the successful model of Apple and to offer Windows Phone and for tablets, Microsoft went a few steps forward – they decided to offer Windows for tablets.

Moreover, recently, they said they wanted to unify their operating system and in the future to offer a single operating system for all types of devices. This would be the ideal ecosystem that will provide a unified user experience and will use the same programs everywhere (or almost the same), of course, consistent with the size of the screen of the device. For the tablets this will be particularly profitable because iPad, as successful as it is as a product is still limited by the fact that it’s using a mobile operating system. A tablet with Windows 8, which would be suitable for tablets as well, will be both a tablet and an ultra-portable computer and will enable its holder to use it as a computer, to attach it to a keyboard, mouse and monitor. In other words, on such a tablet we would be able to install the well-known to everyone office packages, email clients etc. which makes its application in business much bigger than the application of iPad.

War of the patents.

So far, I spoke about innovations, about marketing strategies and ecosystems. The war of the patents that is currently held among all major market players, however, is something completely different. It is expensive, lengthy and is a means beyond the market mechanisms using which you can make your competitors, who may have a better product now, pay you for each unit sold by them or to directly slow down their participation in certain markets. A few quick examples:

Tags: Microsoft Apple ecosystems patents
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