Run down the list of those technology companies that compete with Apple in the PC, smartphone, and tablet segments, and you’ll wonder why Apple doesn’t just close the doors and give the money back to shareholders.
Up and down the line Apple manages to compete against the likes of tech giants Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Lenovo, Dell and HP, HTC, and a bunch of Chinese knock-off makers intent on copying Apple products at the atomic and bit level. Let me take a comparative look at how one company fares against Apple.
What’s The End Game?
Apple’s #1 nemesis for many years was Microsoft. It was the Mac against the Windows PC world up until the iPod and iTunes came along. But something happened back then and not much that Microsoft has done since has changed anything.
Microsoft is rich, yes, still brings in plenty of profits from Windows and Office, but completely, totally missed the mobile revolution which I say started with Apple’s iPod.
The iPod owned the media player landscape (still does) until the smartphone came along. Microsoft’s Zune became a decent product but was too little too late to have an industry impact other than embarrassing Microsoft (Brown? Really?).
Since the iPhone hit the streets Microsoft has been roundly defeated in the mobile industry, losing money hand over fist, but is now staging a comeback of sorts. A comeback which kinda sorta mostly resembles Microsoft’s roots. Software. Applications.
Check the Mac App Store and you’ll see plenty of apps from Microsoft. Check the iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad and you’ll see dozens of Microsoft apps; most of them free. Microsoft has a growing presence on the hundreds of millions of iOS devices, but I don’t understand the end game.
Where does Microsoft make money? Most of the iOS apps are free. Windows is free to manufacturers whose device prices drop below $200. The apps are free, and often come with a one-year subscription to Office 365 (the online subscription connection) and OneDrive online storage.
Across the board, product line by product line, Apple’s game is obvious. Sell lots of products and make lots of money on each product. What’s Microsoft’s game? Give away applications for free and hope to make it up on volume?
Microsoft sees the cloud as the future; the future storage place for files and where applications store files. Somehow Microsoft equates application usage with loyalty and assumes users of mobile apps will also subscribe to Microsoft’s online storage services.
How’s that working out so far?
Microsoft won’t divulge real numbers, but speaks in terms of percentage growth vs. total number of customers gained each quarter. If I were investing in stocks, I’d prefer Apple’s model to Microsoft’s model. Free software does not equate to a revenue stream. Most of Apple’s apps are free, too, but there’s this strange marketing requirement to buy an Apple hardware device to use the free software.
Apple’s game looks better for Apple, their customers and stockholders than Microsoft’s game looks for Microsoft, customers, or stockholders.