Microsoft Googles Apple in 2011

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“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

Babe Ruth (1895 – 1948)

The quote above is apt when you are up against a person but what happens when you encounter organisations that are trying to outdo each other? 2010 was certainly interesting in that respect. Hunter Richard’s blog post on Microsoft (MS) is “All In” for the Cloud, but What About Dynamics? outlined Microsoft’s dilemma that is not limited to just MS Dynamics.

Microsoft is still trying its best to innovate as its key visionaries, such as Ray Ozzie (View Ray Ozzies’s – Dawn of a new day OR BBC’s summary) were falling by the wayside. At face value, it could be argued that MS is reinventing itself, as it has done so quite successfully in the past (WordPerfect vs. MS Word, Netscape vs. Explorer,……list continues),  but this time around, there is a caveat. Is MS actually listening to its own visionaries and customers?

MS knows that history is repeating itself once again as it has done so many times before and MS is trying its best to change and adapt, as it knows very well that if it doesn’t, it could wither away and die, just as it had slain Netscape and WordPerfect in the past. The secret to Apple’s and Google’s success is that they listen to us, the customer. They are finely attuned to what, we, the consumer want and need, just as my previous blog post Leveraging IT for competitive advantage, has alluded to. Secondly, this battle is not just about the hardware and software anymore, as all three companies go after our hard earned cash. Even Apple overtook MS, in terms of revenue this year.

Microsoft is a giant in the software world and one of the penalties it is paying for its enormous success is that:

1.        Its products are now so diverse that only IT experts can make any sense of them. Need convincing. Ask any non IT personnel to visit any Microsoft site and ask them to explain a particular Microsoft site’s products and what they can actually do for them.

2.        Sheer confusion. As a business owner, for my Microsoft IT system, where do I start? Microsoft Licensing and its payment model – Again, this is an open challenge to Microsoft. How many Microsoft employees can explain Microsoft licensing without referring to a price model manual? The correct answer should be at least half its workforce. Why? You cannot sell what you don’t understand (Microsoft have actually done remarkably well then!). Ah, would an employee be able to explain it all in a pub, though?

3. Microsoft’s entire business model is built on desktop/laptop client installation and as long as it has enough businesses that utilise that legacy because they have no other option, for the short term, it faces no financial problem. Office365 is a step in the right direction but unlike Google, MS products were never designed to ‘run in the cloud’ whereas as Rajen Sheth, Google’s senior product manager for Google Apps said, “It will be tough to build up the cloud expertise that’s been built into Google’s DNA since day one.”

So, where does that leave Google, Microsoft and Apple? They should all acknowledge their key strengths, concentrate and focus on those and licence each other’s products. That can be hard to acknowledge by ‘massive’ organisations such as these three but the reality is that sometimes other organisations just do it better than you can.

Let’s take a brief trip down memory lane. Novell was the King of network software, had the opportunity to licence its NDS to MS for its Active Directory, failed to strike an agreement and MS ended up killing its business because they could do it better. So, in hindsight, an effective licensing agreement by Novell would have been better. Then, we have Apple. MS Office is one of the best sold software for its desktop/laptop equivalent and Apple decided years ago that it would not concentrate its efforts on a ‘war’ to decide who could create a better office type software suite. Google became the king of search and MS decided to ‘take it on.’

I would argue that all of these companies need to innovate more. Apple and Google innovate, quite successfully. I would argue though that as innovation is stifled at MS, MS have not released a single innovative product in 201o. MS did finally catch up with Apple (iPhone) and Google (Android) with a WM7 marketplace though! We even saw new releases of old software, such as Windows Mobile 7 and for those who want to argue and labour the point, did anyone release anything groundbreaking as Apple’s iPhone equivalent in 2007 or the iPad this year?

Oh and let’s not forget, Office365 still has no marketplace equivalent!

For more:

What is Cloud Computing? Its Pros/Cons and making it work

Microsoft announces Office 365 beta: test new cloud-based Office one year before its launch

Office 365 Beta: a first look

Steve Ballmer speech at UW: “We’re all in” for cloud computing

Microsoft Straightens Out Cloud Strategy — Finally

The 7 sins of Windows Phone 7

Apple iOS vs. Google Android

Top Tech Company of 2010: Apple

Will Google Apps survive Office 365?

The road to Office 365: The future

Office365 vs Google Apps

A guide to Office 365 versions and pricing

Windows Marketplace

Larry Ellison’s (CEO Oracle) management style and CIOs

Used iphone under a palm tree where I met android and formed a symbian relationship with a blackberry

Bill Gates (Chairman Microsoft) management style and CIOs

Choosing technology over customers

Google Apps – The myth, hype and reality.

Cloud based ERP. Fact or fiction?

Weather bulletin – Google Cloud and icy Microsoft downpour

Steve Job’s (CEO Apple) management style and CIOs

Back to basics Enterprise Resource Planning

Search wars – Past, Present and future – Bing, Google or new entrant?

Leveraging IT for Competitive Advantage – Myth or Reality?

Microsoft and Apple Tablets, pens and swords

The wonderful world of FREE Windows 7 applications

Houston, Windows is counting down 10,9,8,7…

The future is bright but is it mobile?


About mubbisherahmed
I am passionate about IT and its ability to deliver cost effective, value for money solutions that can enhance performance and in many cases provide competitive advantage by using a range of solutions and approaches in innovative ways.

3 Responses to Microsoft Googles Apple in 2011

  1. mubbisherahmed says:

    Richard Whaley said the following on a social media site:

    So what do you want? Only one big organization of cooperating firms, all working together to set prices and control the market?

    I know a couple of the people that were in Novel when the MS offer was made. I also know a couple of people who received an offer to purchase their product before MS boutht GP. The deal would have made everyone rich but then put them out to pasture. Some people are not ready for that. Some people like the challenge of the hunt. The competition. The game!

    Certainly, I like competition in the marketplace. Keeps us all honest.

    I replied:

    Richard, I believe in healthy competition as well and it is sometimes just better to concentrate efforts in areas where they yield the maximum revenue/budget/competitive advantage.

    I do not consider it healthy when organisations lack the innovative prowess to deliver, in this instance, software/hardware of value. For example, Apple, Android and Blackberry are doing very well in the mobile arena, so Microsoft should really take some time to reflect on whether the mobile arena is an area where they could still lead or gain some competitive advantage?

    If Apple had remained competitive in the ‘Office suite’ rather than answer the question above, they would have failed to innovate in an area where they could truly have delivered an innovative product, such as the iPhone.

    It makes sense to take the Apple approach sometimes and concentrate on ‘the core’ of what you are absolutely world class in. In Apple’s case it is based around a proprietary ‘closed system’ of hardware/software that they control to create products that are just simply better than anyone else.

    Years ago, many viewed Steve Jobs ‘closed system’ his downfall (myself included) but he has proved everyone wrong as he took that perceived weakness to deliver products that conform to Apple’s vision and work flawlessly with their own hardware/software.

    Couple that with the fact, that they aren’t really ‘the best’ but resonate sufficiently with the people who buy them that they are even prepared to ‘turn a blind eye’ to some of their faults, such as the iPhone reception flaws last year!

    So, in summary, sometimes it may just be better to licence/joint venture ‘successful’ software/hardware while concentrating an organisation on its ‘core competencies’ thereby maximising the chance to deliver innovative products.

  2. mubbisherahmed says:

    Richard Whaley added to the above comment thread. today:

    So what you suggest is that each firm take one specific product line and focus on that. Knowing that no other firm will challenge them, why would they innovate?

    I replied:

    No, Richard, focus on product(s) that each organisation is ‘world class’ in. Innovate in areas that they believe they can become ‘world class’ in. Exit, product(s) with too much competition.

    There is no ‘rule of thumb’ in business, afterall, Richard Branson went into business in a very competitive environment when he launched ‘Virgin air’ and succeeded. The problem is always, its a management decision and only they have the information to make these informed decisions.

    We can only speculate….

    He added:

    No, competition drives innovation. If I have the best widget and no one else is selling widgets or making any better widgets, why should I spend money making my widget better?

    I replied:

    because if you are the only one selling/making widgets and if you don’t innovate, there is a danger that someone may come around and supply a widget better than yours.

    That’s exactly what Apple did! Mobile phones were around long before, Apple stepped in..

    So, competition is not the only driver to innovate.

    Richard replied:

    But by your statement that firms should ONLY focus on products where they are ‘World Class”, Apple should never have stepped in, since at the time they were not anywhere near World Class.

    I added:

    True, but that’s why I gave Richard Branson’s example. The only ‘right’ decision can only be made by knowing the full facts.

    Entrepreneurial types such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt (CEO), on many occassions may decide not to do that and make decisions on their ‘gut’ feeling. All I am saying is that in the current economic environment, my suggestion could be a viable option.

    Richard replied:

    But what about all the products that failed? If you will not innovate unless you are assured of success, then why try? Look at Edison who discovered 1000 ways NOT to build a light bulb befure he was successful.

    I added:

    Well, as someone said (can’t recall), ‘I am not a failure if I don’t make it, I am a success because I tried.’

  3. mubbisherahmed says:

    Eric Witheridge said the following on a social media site:

    As long as writers of application software such as CRM and payroll continue to re-invent the wheel by writing email apps and calendar apps; there is every reason to suggest that that these vendors are unlikely to agree on anything!
    Google seem to be the most open to licencing out their technology which has major benefits to us the IT users and abusers.

    I replied:

    Yes, that is true and both MS and Apple are adamant to remain a business with older style social values, i.e. they don’t want to share any of their intellectual property or let others benefit by ‘open sourcing’ it either.

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