Remember the good old days? It just wasn’t that many years ago when the Mac was synonymous with Apple Computer, Inc. Apple was the Mac, and Microsoft’s Windows was the dominant operating system among planet earth’s computer users.
That was then, and this is now, and Apple’s launch of the iPhone in 2007 brought about a revolutionary change to the computing landscape, and ushered in a the post-PC era. No, not iPads. The post-PC era is mobile devices. Here’s where Apple stands vs. Microsoft.
The Art Of Diminishing Returns
If ever there was a technology company that generates huge returns on minimal investment, it’s Apple. iPod, Store, iTunes, App Stores, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Watch. Unlike most of Apple’s many competitors, every business segment is profitable and growing.
If ever there was a technology company adept at the art of diminishing returns it’s Microsoft (followed closely by Google), the company that has invested many tens of billions of dollars to diversify itself, yet has completely missed the mobile device tech bubble. Completely.
Even Microsoft’s highly touted and supposedly hot selling Surface tablet notebook hybrid was eclipsed by Apple’s supply constrained Watch in its first three months of existence. What does that say about a changing of the guard.
Wait! There’s more! And it’s worse!
Back in 2012, just three years ago, but 25 years in digital technology years, Android-based devices topped Windows PCs in total unit sales. That was a watershed moment, and while it’s true that Google hasn’t figured out how to make much money with Android, that even set the stage for what is happening now.
Apple’s iOS devices now match Windows PC unit sales. That means the most used operating system on planet earth is Android, followed by Apple’s iOS and Windows. That, folks, is a dramatic changing of the guard. The PC industry is shrinking (except for the Mac) while the mobile device industry is robust and growing, and Apple’s iOS devices account for most of the industry’s profits (just as it does with the Mac vs. PCs).
iPhone sales topped 220-million unit sales in the past year, and the company has shipped over 1-billion iOS devices as of the end of 2014. Just as Apple was given up for dead in the late 1990s, Microsoft has fallen from grace, topped by two competitors in the mobile industry where neither company, Apple and Google, had a product just over eight years ago.
Apple was willing to bet the farm and take substantial risks with a series of successful products– Apple Stores, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, Watch– because the company was backed up against the wall of insignificance. What of Microsoft? Losses mount while mindshare diminishes. What will the technology landscape be in another eight years?