Given that no love has supposedly been lost between them, it is passingly strange that Apple’s Steve Jobs appears to be secretly helping Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer. What? Can’ t ye Editor see that Apple’s Steve Jobs has been applying a whupping to Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer for the past ten years. Just check the new multimedia portable devices, smartphones and tablet markets. iPod has laid waste to Zune and company; iPhone has devastated the Windows Mobile Phone and Kin; while iPad has yet again created a new Apple-first market where Microsoft had 10 years to fail and fail again with its tablets. That sound like a 1-2-3 tattooing and no kid glove treatment whatsoever.
Steve Job’s Helping a Fellow Steve
Well lets look at the recent record. Microsoft has in the past five years attempted to ruin its Windows, Web/IE , and desktop Office Suite brands. Redmond has underserved, mispackaged, and/or overpriced its major revenue sources. Just say Vista, IE and Office 2007 and you don’t have to add Security Tuesdays nor icompatible programming silos to have CIOs pulling their hair worldwide as they knuckle under for another year of 80% of their budget going to maintain existing operations. This has made Redmond vulnerable to attack by its competitors notably Apple. So lets see how Steve Jobs has taken advantage of Microsoft’s wounded state:
1)Regarding the Windows Vista disaster – Apple improved MacOS X but also raised the price of its desktops and laptops to 2-4 times more than the equivalently equipped Windows PCs during Windows weakest period. Apple had an award winning ad campaign against Windows but did not offer even a short term price reduction – “trade in your PC clunker and get $500 off on your favorite MacBook Air or Apple Desktop” [this would have been a natural fit with its Mac vs PC ad campaign]. The key would have been to have a campaign so that the price of Apple Macs is reduced while the awful Vista and even Windows 7 try to defend Redmond’s monopoly. Cupertino did No Such Deal. No pricing pressure was applied to Windows PCs at all by Apple.
2)Regarding graphics performance – Apple has been conceding leadership to Microsoft and Windows with alarming regularity. Given its customer base, graphics performance should be regarded as the family jewels in Cupertino. But Microsoft Windows on the same basic Apple hardware outperforms Apple MacOS X by 15-30% in video, 3D and other graphics tests.
3)Apple is conceding multi-touch screen advantage to Windows PCs – Incredibly, Apple has just rejected multi-touch screens on Macs, ceding its huge lead to Windows PCs which have such multi-touch screens on the HP 2250 laptop or the Acer Aspire Windows PCs among a growing array of screen touch enabled PCs. No multi-touch screens for Macs.
4)Regarding Zune and Windows Mobile – again, no such trade-in offers or price reductions on early models of iPod or iPhone to get users to trade-up. No inducement to help Microsoft loyalist switch with Exchange, Outlook, and Calendar connections or conversion offers. Result, Zune with the help of Xbox is starting to lift off and Windows Mobile survives.
5)Apple rejected the next generation interface technology, Kinect – Microsoft leaped on it for the XBox and has been revitalized as a result. Can Microsoft innovate with this lead and extend Kinect like some are saying it is capable of. If they don’t Google will surely do so; but Apple is out of the game.
6)Apple has let Windows Mobile survive – with billions in the kitty, Microsoft seems willing to spend what it takes to get ads, device makers and developers to adopt Windows Phone 7. As of November 8th, the market will decree if Apple or Microsoft has done enough.
7)Apple has fumbled its TV strategy – So now Microsoft with XBox and especially with Kinect has an opening that no one would have given them a year ago.
8)Apple has slowly but surely replaced key Adobe software with its own – Aperture for Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Pro for Adobe Premiere Pro, etc. But Apple still remains dependent on Microsoft for its Office Suite leaving open a spy-window into the latest UI, Mac and iOS4 development for the Copyists back in Redmond.
9)Apple has done nothing about the scourge that is Microsoft IE – Apple could have invested some of its $40B kitty into jQuery-like and/or HTML5 savvy start-ups and leveraged its Webkit prowess into a Web market leading advantage. With IE9 finally out the door, the opportunity has nearly evaporated to put Microsoft way behind the Web 8 ball.
10)Apple has no public Cloud Presence – by neglect Google, Amazon and Microsoft lead in this Future of Computing sector.
11)Steve Jobs has gratuitously and falsely attacked Flash – and in the process has given Smartphone and tablet vendors including Microsoft, a competitive advantage if they support Flash.
This list could easily continue on. But the most important point is that Apple appears to have passed on numerous chances to really outdo its number one rival, Microsoft. The obvious question is why?
Why Defer to Redmond?
The question that immediately comes to mind is why is Apple treating Redmond with such deference?. Too much on Apples plate? This is a real possibility for some of the situations above. But others appear imminently doable. Take for example temporarily lowering prices seems fall-off-a-log easy to do; especially considering that with no other major players in the desktop/laptop market, Apple would not be creating an opportunity for some 3rd party. Maybe its is fear of Antitrust? This is really laughable given the Bush years and the new gridlock in Washington. Does Steve Jobs have a secret no-compete pact with Bill and Steve?? Only the Shadow knows…
But consider the following mind game – what would Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer have done with such opportunities to cripple or eliminate such a dangerous competitor ? Nudge, nudge; wink, wink; see what I mean, see what I mean ?
For Keep an Open Eye readers, the funniest hypotheses added to the comments below wins a book on innovation by guess who ???