Apple versus Microsoft

Published: June 7, 2010
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Most recently Apple’s market capitalization crossed $230b, surpassing Microsoft and achieving a historical milestone in the PC industry

Most recently Apple’s market capitalization crossed $230b, surpassing Microsoft and achieving a historical milestone in the PC industry

KARACHI: Steve Jobs, returned to Apple in 1997 after being ousted by the board in 1985 in the midst of a power struggle. Upon his return he unleashed strategic forays that left the entire market baffled—from PC makers to mobile phone companies and operators.

When Microsoft was starting off, Bill Gates’ focus was primarily on growth and his philosophy was to let everyone do what they were best at. HP, Compaq, Dell and other PC makers focused on the hardware. Companies like NVidia and Logitech focused on the graphics card and peripheral devices. PC repair shops cropped up at every street corner. Everyone who had anything to do with the PC industry was a winner, except for Apple.

Apple was a lot more close-fisted. It wanted to apply the approach of car makers to computers and control the entire experience from the controversial one-button mouse to the monitors, cabling and even the retail stores. Consequently, the machines were a lot more costly to produce and had to be sent to Apple headquarters for repairs. Other than Apple, only those who made software running on Apple computers were able to profit. And these people were few and far in between because it was far more profitable to make software for Microsoft Windows.

Apple almost went bankrupt but in one of the most ironic turn of events, Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple in 1997 to give the company some breathing room.

In October 2001, just before Christmas season, Apple introduced the iPod which would be its saving grace. It embodied Apple’s central design philosophy of simplicity and provided enough cash for Steve Jobs to start expanding the company. Apple has nearly 300 self-owned retail stores around the globe with hundreds of other authorized resellers. The iTunes music store has become the largest music store in the world surpassing even Walmart. The iPhone is so easy to use that majority of the mobile traffic on the Internet comes from an iPhone.

The timing could not have been better for Apple. Microsoft slipped by 2 years in shipping Windows Vista, which was still too bleak. The Operating System itself is saturated to that point that people see no reason to upgrade from Windows XP which is “good enough”. The primary use of the PC has become Internet surfing and even there Microsoft has long neglected Internet Explorer while Apple has made big leaps in the browser market, providing some key components for even Google’s Chrome browser.

The iPod evolved into the iPhone and recently into the iPad. Small incremental updates and flawless product design allowed Apple to inch its way into new product lines threatening Blackberry, Nokia, Microsoft, Sony and many other established companies who are still quite puzzled as to how it all happened. Technology truly is disruptive.

Published in the Express Tribune, June 7th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Saad Mengal
    Jun 7, 2010 - 5:00PM

    Apple’s market share is bigger than BMW’s or Mercedes’s or Porsche’s in the automotive market. What’s wrong with being BMW or Mercedes? – Steve Jobs.

    If he has this attitude ;) Offcourse he will be the best one left.Recommend

  • How has Apple made big leaps in the browser market?

    After IE, it’s FF and Chrome….

    Safari is not even a major competitor right now..

    And you didn’t mention Windows 7 in the OS part.Recommend

  • Abdullah Soomro
    Jun 7, 2010 - 8:14PM

    Apple certainly has given tough competition to Microsoft, and media players and smartphone makers. As for as this article is concerned, you did not do justice to Microsoft. This seems like a summary of various articles available online. Microsoft OS market share continued to decline but it got a boost after the introduction of Vista. Recommend

  • Abdullah Soomro
    Jun 7, 2010 - 10:48PM

    It is not Vista but Windows 7. Sorry for the error!Recommend

  • Jun 8, 2010 - 1:13AM

    @nabeel, the Chrome browser uses the WebKit rendering engine that was developed by the Apple and made open source. It’s the fastest rendering engine in the market. In either case, in the mobile browsing sector, the Safari browser has the biggest market share. Most recently the iPad surpassed even iPhone in the total mobile web browsing traffic. The iPad has launched barely 2 months ago with around 2 million units sold (about a billion dollars in revenues).

    @abdullah, I credited Microsoft with more but it got edited out due to word limits. Microsoft brought the PC to every home. In either case, the article does not serve to put either company in negative light. Apple has enjoyed tremendous success in the PMD and mobile space. Microsoft is currently fighting a lot of battles such as in search, mobile, browser, web mail, social and a few others spaces which makes it a giant.Recommend

  • Jun 8, 2010 - 1:18AM

    I am sorry to be harsh but it would be nice if write put more focus on the various aspects how apple is earning more then microsoft. There are many factors and issues which come into the play. It is also to note that the article writer is refering to recent estimate which just market capitalisation. While Market capitalisation is another thing and working with different parts of technology items is another thing. P industry is still booming and microsoft still owns more then 90% share of the computers. There are still many factors that have been sites like gizmodo, Engadget, CNET etc for these kind of issues. Anyhow i would urge writer to write the articles with more details and insight that would make our national writers and websites to par with the big names.Recommend

  • @Aleem

    Well You never mentioned in the “mobile browsing sector”. You compared Apple with Internet Explorer, and it seems like you were comparing desktop (PC) browsers, as you said:

    “The primary use of the PC has become Internet surfing and even there Microsoft has long neglected Internet Explorer while Apple has made big leaps in the browser market…”Recommend

  • Jun 8, 2010 - 8:17PM

    @Aleem Just to correct you on some historical facts, Webkit was initiated by KHTML (which itself creates KDE) so apple use the open source technology itself. No Innovation from them :) For reference see Wikipedia plzRecommend

  • Bilal Ahmed
    Jun 9, 2010 - 12:50AM

    I love the new iPhone 4! Apple and Google are going to lead the cellular market.

    Usman wasn’t windows built on top of DOS which was built by IBM? Does that mean IBM is the innovator? Google Android is built on linux so Android is not an innovator either? Didn’t Windows also copy Mac?

    Higher market capitalization means that the market expects Apple to outperform Microsoft in the long run. Your cow produces more milk than mine but the market may still pay more for my cow, why? Because it has more potential or maybe that your cow is just dying. Apple is growing very, very fast. Microsoft is not growing and for the past 10 years the stock has not moved up.Recommend

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