What a difference a decade makes. 10 years ago the computing mantra was “Windows Everywhere.”
Apple was down and the count had begun. Microsoft had destroyed Netscape. The operating system wars, the browser wars, even the desktop wars were declared over.
Microsoft won. Get over it. Or, did they? What happened? Microsoft’s kingdom is shrinking as more nimble, agile, and savvy competitors have crossed the moat and charged on the castle.
Enough with the metaphors. What happened? If necessity is the mother of invention, Apple needed to survive and invented a way.
The 1990s were not good years for Mac lovers and Apple. Microsoft’s Windows had won the desktop and OS wars. The internet arrived and Netscape opened a wound on Microsoft’s turf and paid dearly for the venture.
As for Apple, the company nearly ran out of money. Co-founder Steve Jobs was ready to walk away from his advisor role at Apple, signaling to all that the end was near.
What happened? Necessity happened. Apple, through spiritual leader Steve Jobs, rallied the troops and customers, stood their ground on the battlefield, and declared, in public, that Microsoft was the winner. Public statements do not private actions make.
Apple developed a plan for the next Macs, the next Mac operating system, a strategy for the future, most of which hinged on OS X to keep the faithful buying products until the next great thing came along.
The next great thing was the iPod, then the iTunes Store, and, one by one, new Apple retail stores.
Meanwhile, like a sleeping hare, Microsoft coasted into unconsciousness, unable to keep up the momentum of their ill gotten gains of the 1990s. The tortoise was loose and running amok. Microsoft slept.
One great thing often begets another. With the iPod and the iTunes Store, Apple had created a huge opportunity for revenue growth, enormous profits, and proceeded to make market share inroads against the PC, Windows, and Microsoft.
Tens of millions of customers loved their iPods and loved the Apple Stores and began to get familiar, even comfortable, with the Mac, which compared favorably to their insecure and troublesome PCs.
Meanwhile, Microsoft slept. Within a few short years Apple owned the portable media player market and became the leader in media sales. Roused from a deep intoxication, behemoth Microsoft struck back.
Remember the Zune? Remember Vista? Apple’s bold move to adopt Intel chips in the Mac, and to offer Windows capability, made the company’s computers more attractive to Windows tired and troubled masses.
For years Apple’s television commercials have extolled the hip Mac as calm and collected and pictured the PC as many Windows users feel—harried, hassled, and desperate.
During that time, Microsoft’s browser strategy had been completed. Netscape died a punishing, public, and humiliating death. Internet Explorer ruled the desktop world, Mac or PC.
Necessity required Apple to create their own browser in Safari. The need for security required Mozilla to create Firefox, the free and feature laden competitor to Internet Explorer. The OS wars had not really ended, and neither had the browser wars.
Netscape was back but in the form of Firefox. Apple had plans for Safari. Safari Everywhere. Mac, Windows, cell phone. One of Netscape’s original strategies was back. The browser as platform.
Google recently entered the browser wars with Chrome, essentially WebKit with specific capability to become the new interface to the complex world of internet based applications. Time will tell how the new battle shapes out, but the landscape today is far different than a decade ago.
Windows Mobile, Microsoft’s flagship portable operating system, is about to be eclipsed by Apple’s upstart iPhone OS X in market share, certainly in revenue.
How does Microsoft respond to such arrogant attacks on the hegemony? First, they launch a series of television commercials featuring Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Seinfeld-Mac-loving Jerry Seinfeld together buying shoes and visiting average folks.
The commercials were incredibly gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and quickly pulled in favor of a new ad campaign with—“I’m a PC” John Hodgeman look alike complaining about being made a stereotype.
The lumbering, slumbering Goliath is speaking. And it’s all nonsensical gibberish. Microsoft has fallen ill. The emperor has no clothes, no sense of humor, no understanding, and no future.