Microsoft vs. Apple vs. Google: Differing Visions: Page 5

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Apple is nearly the opposite, in that you buy a product and with it you get low cost or free features and services. iTunes is one of the services and iLife is one of the features. This mirrors in many ways how we buy most things except razors and cell phones. Apple’s future is one based on having at least one successful flagship offering or line, like the iPod, but the iPhone’s future is uncertain while the eventual drop of the iPod from star status is not. Also uncertain is Apple’s ability to sell into the enterprise, because with that class of buyer, it isn’t the product but the relationship that counts. Apple is historically really bad at relationships. Apple is showing signs of being on a bubble and bubbles have a tendency to pop; on the other hand, Apple is really good at this bubble thing – and the iPod has already been a success longer than most have thought any product in this class could be.

Microsoft is a company in transition. Microsoft is an eco system company and one that sells to both consumer and enterprise customers today. Highly diverse and with an increasing history of execution issues on point products, but successes in establishing (and owning) standards, the company is struggling to adjust to a changed world and the changes being made to address it.

It stopped chasing IBM some time ago yet is still burdened with IBM-like practices and an internal environment which may be out of date when compared to Google. It too often seems to be trying to chase product companies and forgetting that licensing and partners are what made it great. Still, it is trying to adopt but the one guy who has previously spearheaded its adaptation, Bill Gates, is leaving. In short, unlike its predecessors, it is trying to evolve and is finding evolution to be a very painful process, but likely preferable to the alternative of obsolescence.

Overall Google’s issues are in front of them and they don’t need the enterprise to be successful; they are growing incredibly fast. This, in and of itself, is a big risk but the company appears to be in the best shape today even though they aren’t a viable enterprise choice. That actually may not matter, and recall that Netscape largely died because they focused on the Enterprise rather than their existing customers and market.

Apple seems to focus excessively on Microsoft, and Microsoft on Google and Apple. It is interesting to note that the seeming most successful of the three is only focused on its customers and market expansion. That’s actually old school Microsoft, and to use a Star Wars phrase, maybe the student has now become the master.

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