Comparisons of anything can be a difficult proposition because not too many comparisons are totally apples to apples. Some are Apple to apples. It’s common knowledge that Microsoft’s Windows won the desktop and notebook PC wars. Apple lost.
Yet, here we are, a few decades since Apple had any prominence at all among operating systems, and the Mac not only survives, but it prospers more than any Windows PC maker. The same is true of mobile devices. Microsoft’s Windows has no notable presence in the mobile device arena at all. And, guess who the winners and losers are?
Apple vs. apples
First, a quick sidebar to support the premise of who won and who lost and why it’s all a moot argument because the wars compare Apple to apples. You won’t read about this comparison in the traditional digital technology press (if it’s digital is it still press?) but it is incredibly valuable to understand it so you see why Apple lost yet prospered.
Remember the Windows vs. Mac wars of a decade or two ago? The comparison was invalid. Windows is an operating system that ran on a variety of PC hardware. The Mac is a PC that runs only macOS (or, OS X and classic Mac OS in the distant past). They are not the same thing so any comparison beyond hardware is invalid, yet that’s the way comparisons ran for decades.
We’re in the middle of the Android vs. iPhone war that has raged for years. Again, the comparison is invalid. Android OS is an operating system that runs on a variety of smartphone hardware. The iPhone is a smartphone that runs only iOS. They are not the same thing so any comparison beyond hardware is invalid, yet that’s how technology writers make their comparisons.
Wouldn’t a comparison of the operating systems on specific hardware be a more valid comparison? Then a reader could be treated to why this OS is better or worse than that OS? Why don’t we read of such comparisons? First, they’re subjective. Second, they take more time. Hardware comparisons are fast and easy.
Back to the wars.
Apple lost the war against Microsoft’s Windows which ended up on more than 90-percent of the entire planet’s personal computers. But the Mac prospered and went on to record sales in the face of an industry-wide PC sales slump. Apple may have lost to Microsoft but it won where it counts. Profits. The Mac accounts for half of the entire PC industry’s profits each year with barely double digit marketshare.
Apple lost the war against Google’s Android OS which ended up on more than 80-percent of the planet’s smartphones and tablets. But Apple’s iconic iPhone prospered and went on to help drive the company’s wealth and market value, while taking more than 90-percent of the entire mobile device industry’s profits. Microsoft was reduced to a has-been company with not even a toehold among the mobile product segment.
Yes, the operating system wars may be over, and don’t look for a third entity to crash the party, either among PCs or smartphones, but remember that marketshare is only one metric among many that determine a product’s success. Can you name another product as successful as the iPhone?