Microsoft vs. Apple vs. Google: Differing Visions: Page 2

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IT doesn’t want vendors who learn on IT’s nickel, but Apple’s partnership history is horrid and they are unlikely to even try to partner to penetrate the Enterprise. In addition IT wants roadmaps, and a partner in future versions of offerings with vendors they work with. But Apple, as a product company, is scared to death of leaks, for fear someone else will get to their goal first. And so the company won’t work with IT, or anyone else, in this way. Therefore it simply may not matter what Leopard is, without the critical surrounding Enterprise Partners and disclosures it will not meet IT’s need.

Apple’s strength, a sharp focus on product, is also its weakness because it prevents the kind of collaboration needed to grow outside of its niche and rise to what otherwise would be its potential.

Microsoft: Strong Vision, Bad Focus

Microsoft is in many ways the nearly polar opposite of Apple. Early on Bill Gates drove the company to be a part of as many things as possible. The company became what it is, for good and ill, largely as a result of an IBM partnership which both got them into the enterprise and infected them with practices that had crippled their predecessor.

This showcases one of the problems with learning from someone else. You don’t often know which part of the lesson should be retained and which part discarded so that you avoid the mistakes the teacher is currently making. In Microsoft’s case it was the IBM practice of avoiding accountability and institutionalizing management that turned out to be the communicable disease that should have been, but was not avoided.

Still, while this has certainly hurt the firm and its image over time, its financial performance remains very strong and, still, in most parts of the world most people are touched by the company’s offerings.

Microsoft is clearly an enterprise vendor but, like IBM before them, the question is "are they looking ahead to even more influence or back at greatness that will never again be achieved?” In many ways Microsoft is at a turning point, trying to remain relevant and even important in a world that increasingly seems focused on something other than software.

Microsoft has tried to emulate to some degree companies like Sony with the Xbox and Apple with the Zune. But they learned that other more focused companies like Nintendo with the Wii and SanDisk with the Sensa did it better with vastly less resources.

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