A few years ago I wrote about The Palo Alto Accord. No, it wasn’t a silicon valley Honda dealer with a special discount on a popular model.
The premise was based upon the thought that Steve Jobs and then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt met to layout the future of mobile computing; a roadmap which divvied up the industry into two slices; Android OS and Apple’s iOS. What about Microsoft Phone, BlackBerry, Windows and Office? Oh, so 1999. It’s a new race with new horses. Old horses need not apply.
The Big Squeeze
There is little question that Apple is at fault for the state of today’s mobile technology, thanks in part to the genius in the iPhone, and thanks in part to Google’s willingness to scrap a crummy smartphone design and rebuild it to look, feel, and work like Apple’s iconic invention.
Whatever happened to Microsoft? Unfortunately for the Windows brand, Microsoft’s executives were basically asleep for a decade or so, resting contentedly on the comfortable laurels of Windows XP and Office, and completely missed the mobile revolution that Apple’s Steve Jobs founded.
It was years later when Microsoft woke up to the fact that desktop PCs and notebooks were so 1999, and the world had moved on to smartphones and tablets; mobile devices that came to rule the world, topple Windows, and put a huge squeeze on the Office maker’s fortunes; to the point where the CEO was shown the door, and a massive upheaval occurred in an attempt to salvage a future in the cloud.
Yours truly in 2013:
Think of it as an event more similar to the Yalta Conference in 1945 whereby President Franklin Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and General Secretary Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union carved up Europe.
In this case, it seems plausible that Jobs and Schmidt met to outline their respective strategies for conquering the smart phone market to the exclusion of Nokia, Microsoft, and RIM. I believe they may have agreed in principle to do exactly what we see taking place today.
Here’s how the technology landscape works today. The dominant operating system is Google’s Android OS which makes up most of the mid-range and low-end of mobile devices on the market, while Apple’s iOS for iPad and iPhone make up a smaller percentage of the total, but a larger percentage of industry’s total profits.
In the mobile industry, Microsoft is nowhere to be seen, yet reigns over a technology landscape littered with the carcasses of past misdeeds, squeezed at the low end in the PC segment by nearly free Chromebooks, and dwarfed by Apple’s Mac at the premium end, while holding sway over little more than some patient royalties in the mobile device arena, and waning profits from Windows and Office.
It’s more than plausible that The Palo Alto Accord between Jobs and Schmidt was intended to carve up the smart phone market into two distinct camps, both of which could thrive and prosper over time. Apple would ignore the low end of the market, while Google and their smart phone manufacturing partners and cell phone makers would avoid creating quality products and an ecosystem that just works.
Did Google and Apple conspire to squeeze the old Microsoft horse out of the race? Or, is the Windows maker a victim of its own success, hubris, arrogance, and inability to recognize change while it happened?
Check out the conspiracy theory in The Palo Alto Accord and see for yourself. The two-horse race has come to pass. The old horses are relegated to technology history books.