Who knows the future of technology? Nobody. It’s that simple. To hear some tell the story of the future, we’ll all be using fully autonomous vehicles in a few years to get from here to there. The future seldom happens as quickly as we think but often gets here before we know it.
What about technology giants Apple and Microsoft? Apple moved smartphones into the future while Microsoft remained stuck in the past. Google seems willing to publicize futuristic products but can’t deliver hardware any better than last year’s models. Who knows the future? Apple. And Microsoft says it does.
Reality vs. Hype
Historically, Apple doesn’t talk much about the future. Instead, the company just cranks out new products every now and again, and those products tend to lay the groundwork for future gadget prosperity. It happened with the Mac, the iPod, then iPhone and iPad, and we see it with Watch, too. Can you name a product that has had such an impact on the staid old watch industry since electricity?
The problem with Apple’s approach to the future is that Apple doesn’t say much. Unless the Mac Pro line is crashing and Mac professionals are crying tears while they move to Windows PCs. Then Apple suddenly had a roadmap to the future.
Microsoft has missed more boats than Columbus’ second cousin, once removed. Thanks to the Windows and Office cash cows, Microsoft is still around, still delivering yesterday’s products today and calling them the hits of tomorrow.
Take the Surface line of personal computers. They’re hybrid devices that combine touchscreen with detachable keyboards to create a tablet and a notebook. The television commercials make a compelling argument to switch from iPad or Mac. Maybe iPad customers are switching to Macs instead. iPad sales are going down while Mac sales are going up while Microsoft Surface sales are going down.
Microsoft fully missed the post-PC era and Windows Phone is all but dead but that’s OK because executives at the company know the past is dead and the future is coming. It just can’t figure out what to do with the present. Even Microsoft knows it won’t gain a foothold into the rapidly changing smartphone business, and while it waits to invent the future, the Windows maker is busy churning out Mac killers that look and feel and work much like Mac notebooks and are priced about the same.
What’s the compelling reason for a Mac user to switch, Microsoft?
Because. Just because.
Meanwhile, the future is picking up steam and the inventor of Microsoft’s not hot selling holographic headset, the Hololens says:
The phone is already dead. People just haven’t realized.
Oh, well. That settles it. Sell AAPL and buy MSFT because Microsoft knows the future even if it isn’t telling anyone.
Microsoft hardware guy Yusuf Mehdi on the company’s hardware efforts:
We have grown up so much in the last two years. It’s night and day.
That’s probably true. Especially since Microsoft didn’t sell personal computers before and now it does. That’s night and day.
Microsoft hasn’t entirely mastered hardware. Last week, quarterly sales fell short because Surface revenue declined 26 percent.
Again. Yes, that’s right. Again. Surface sales are declining while Mac sales remain at record levels. But that’s not the narrative you read many places, and especially from the technorati elite and nattering nabobs of negativism in the technology press.
It has been almost seven years since Apple last redesigned the Macbook Air, the computer most similar to Microsoft’s laptop.
Think about that statement for a moment. The implication is that Apple hasn’t done much in seven years. But it also means Microsoft has barely been able to copy a seven year old Mac design.
Here’s another from the same Bloomberg duo that need an editor to review their work.
The latest MacBook Pro, released more than 500 days after its predecessor, was panned by professionals who deemed it underpowered and too hard to use.
Underpowered? Compared to what? A Microsoft Surface Book notebook which has similar to lesser specifications at about the same price? And since when do professionals find Macs ‘too hard to use?‘
Good grief. To paraphrase Steve Jobs, “You’re writing it wrong.” The future is on its way, but is anyone paying attention to what they write in the present?
Microsoft has taken a disciplined approach to hardware, focusing largely on uncrowded market segments or creating new categories, including the company’s “mixed-reality” HoloLens goggles that let wearers project 3-D holograms onto their surroundings and interact with them.
Since the Surface line generates actual revenue that can be counted, that focus on uncrowded market segments is techno speak for “We got nothing.” Got anything else about the Surface line? Uh huh.
The Surface brand generated more than $4 billion in sales last fiscal year.
That made it a big hit, right? Except sales are going down, not up, a trend that is ongoing. And Apple made far more money on Watch sales in the same period, but techno media charlatans called that a failure.
Microsoft wants the future to be $3,000 HoloLens devices which look like a digital version of the Alien egg laying creatures attached to your face. Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook hints time and again at the future by calling it a big idea like the iPhone. Hmmm.
The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives. And be entertaining.
Hmmm. Augmented reality for the iPhone that goes beyond Pokemon Go? How about iGlasses? Hey, there it is. The future. And Apple CEO Tim Cook has hinted for a couple of years that it’s coming. Maybe we should pay attention.