Apple’s reputation as a disruptive innovator means the company leads the industry in new directions. Paradoxically, Apple is often bashed by critics for not innovating fast enough. These days, Apple casts a long shadow over Google and Microsoft.
It’s Dark In The Shadows
One can argue that casting Google and Microsoft in Apple’s shadow borders on hubris, but give me a momentary benefit of the doubt.
Yes, Google is the de facto leader in search engines (Microsoft is a competitor, Apple is not), and the company’s Android OS dominates the smartphone arena.
Meanwhile, Microsoft remains hugely profitable thanks to the Windows and Office hegemony, populating over 80-percent of the world’s PCs.
So, how are both companies in Apple’s shadow?
It’s obvious to most tech pundits that both Google and Microsoft follow what Apple does. Neither company performs the same kind of disruptive innovation that Apple seems to manufacture every few years.
Apple redefined the portable music player, and Microsoft followed (and failed). Apple redefined online music sales, and Microsoft followed (and failed).
Hang on. This list might go on for awhile.
From iPod to iTunes to iPhone to App Store to iPad, Microsoft has been the follower, not the leader, losing money on every major venture while Apple piles up the riches.
What About Google?
That Microsoft has made a history of following Apple should be obvious, especially so now that the Windows Phone maker is purchasing Nokia so it can create both software and hardware– just like Apple.
Google is a different animal, of course, but struggles to see the sunshine from behind Apple’s long shadow. Android looks and functions much like Apple’s iOS for iPhone and iPad for a reason. That’s the de facto standard for modern smartphones.
When it became obvious that Samsung was the only real Android device maker to compete with Apple, and device fragmentation was to become a huge problem for Android customers, Google bought Motorola. Why? To be like Apple and produce both software and hardware.
It must really grate on the nerves of Google and Microsoft executives that Apple gets credit for disruptive innovation, for redefining markets, and for being the target to beat, but it’s a fact of life. They live in Apple’s shadows.
The Money Gap
Apple’s shadow has another effect on both Google and Microsoft. Money doesn’t grow in the dark. It requires the bright light of the sun. Apple banks billions of dollars in profit each quarter on iPhone and iPad sales. Profits of over $150-billion have created a huge money gap between Apple and Google and Microsoft.
Meanwhile, the search engine giant and Windows maker collectively have spent tens of billions to compete with Apple’s success. The idea in business is to spend money to make money. Google and Microsoft simply spend money. They’re not making anything in profits to speak of in smartphones or tablets.
That gap in profits is nearing $200-billion, and there’s little indication that either Google or Microsoft has a plan to change the competitive scene. Hey, things just don’t grow when they’re living in a shadow. That’s why Dolly Parton has small feet.