Apple is like Microsoft

That was my first thought after seeing the news that Google CEO Dr Eric Schmidt is leaving the Apple board. Steve Jobs:

Unfortunately, as Google enters more of Apple’s core businesses, with Android and now Chrome OS, Eric’s effectiveness as an Apple Board member will be significantly diminished, since he will have to recuse himself from even larger portions of our meetings due to potential conflicts of interest. Therefore, we have mutually decided that now is the right time for Eric to resign his position on Apple’s Board.

I realise that we are more used to the idea that Apple is Microsoft’s polar opposite. Apple has design and beautiful hardware, Microsoft has OEM’s with their model-a-minute systems that are never quite right. Apple has iPhone which everyone wants, Microsoft has Windows Mobile which everyone puts up with (if they don’t have an iPhone). Apple has iPod which everyone uses, Microsoft has Zune which nobody uses. And so on.

Nevertheless, Apple and Microsoft are companies from the same era, and they both make most of their money by constantly upgrading the client and persuading us to buy into the latest version. Although Apple has some investment in the cloud, with Mobile Me and more importantly the App Store, these exist primarily to support its client devices.

Google on the other hand is invested in the cloud. Projects like Android and Chrome OS may run on the client, but they are not profit centres in themselves – they exist to promote Google’s web-based services (see Google Chrome OS – the Web’s the thing). It is important for Google to make these investments, as without them the client-centric giants (Apple and Microsoft) have too much power to impair web-based computing in favour of the old model.

Recently Apple has been been making life miserable for App Store developers by denying applications that compete with built-in iPhone features – most visibly in the case of Google Voice. Unfortunately by protecting the iPhone in this way Apple is diminishing its usefulness in the cloud era.

Apple is not quite like Microsoft. Apple can grow by taking market share from Microsoft, whereas it is harder for Microsoft to do the reverse (though Windows 7 is a good attempt). Apple can make more inroads into business computing. It can broaden the market for the iPhone by making a wider range of device and lowering the price of entry, as it did with the iPod. The digital home is another promising market.

On the other hand, Microsoft has more of a cloud platform than Apple. Microsoft has Bing-Yahoo search, Hotmail and Messenger, Windows Azure and Silverlight. It has failed so far, but in theory it could build this into a viable alternative to Google.

Still, now that Apple and Google have started to break their alliance and openly compete, it’s clear that Apple and Microsoft are on the same side of a great divide, with Google on the other.

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6 thoughts on “Apple is like Microsoft”

  1. I have a different take on this. Companies, like countries, have permanent interests, but no permanent friends or enemies. At times, they will work with or against each other. Sometimes, they will pretend to work against each other as a means to fool their opponents. What, then, has this to do with Eric Schmidt leaving Apple’s Board of Directors? Plenty.

    Mac OSX and Chrome are both Operating System’s but they will not compete with each other. Apple is at the high end of the computing market while Google will be at the low, cheap end — netbooks initially.

    Apple uses its OS to sell its premium hardware while Google will give away its OS to prevent MS from sabotaging its Google applications and search engine. Same thing is true with the iPhone OS and Asteroid; there will be a major quality and marketing differences. Will Apple care if Google provides a free phone OS to replace Windows Mobile and Symbian? I don’t think so. Apple is not in the feature phone market.

    What do both Apple and Google have in common? They have a desire to take down Microsoft. So, they act as conspirators. Apple hits MS from on high while Google hits from below. Can Apple and Google broadcast this fact boldly? No. So, Eric Schimdt must leave.

    I expect that Apple will continue to take away Wintel’s premium business. Google will create a free operating system which replaces the Windows OS and MS office at the low end and in the Enterprise markets. Both are areas that Apple does not choose to engage in. Rightly so, because both areas presents a problem for Apple’s consumer marketing.

    Occasionally, such as with Google Voice, one company will step on the other’s toes and be forced to back off. That does not make them enemies.

    The computer market is very wide. There is a place for many operating systems and marketing strategies. Chrome will not satisfy anyone who needs more than basic web surfing and web applications.

    I do not know how the Chrome OS will look or act. Even so, I do not expect it to be like the Linux X Windows OS such as Debian and Ubuntu uses. Why? Because X Windows is a rip off of Microsoft’s OS. It teaches computer newbies how to get used to Microsoft Windows. Why would either company want that?

    If Apple and Google are in cahoots, then the Chrome OS will look and act like the Macintosh OS. Apple will have no problem with that. Why? Because that will naturally lead people who need more from Applications than Google wants to provide to migrate to the Apple Macintosh, instead of Wintel.

    This was all hashed out many years ago. Eric Schmidt needed to be on Apple’s board to help set things into motion and herd both companies cats in the same direction.

    The foundations have been laid. Both companies are moving in coordination, so Eric need not be a member of Apple’s board. So what?

  2. Hi,

    not sure about putting up with Windows mobile but wanting a iphone. I had a windows mobile phone and now I have an iphone and I really miss the functionality of Windows Mobile. Why or why is the email and calendering functionality on the iphone so far. Who on earth needs a digital compass when you can’t even forward meetings are add people to a meeting ???



  3. “I do not know how the Chrome OS will look or act. Even so, I do not expect it to be like the Linux X Windows OS such as Debian and Ubuntu uses. Why? Because X Windows is a rip off of Microsoft’s OS. It teaches computer newbies how to get used to Microsoft Windows. Why would either company want that?”

    In a literal sense, X Windows is hardly a rip off of Microsoft Windows. Why? Because X predates MS Windows by many years, dating at least to the mid-1980s.

    Of the many window/desktop managers available for X, some do mimic elements of the Windows GUI style. On the other hand, some managers, like KDE, also include influences from other sources (e.g., the panel from the Common Desktop Environment [CDE] that ran on Sun and HP workstations in the 1990s).

    Both KDE and Gnome aspire to be Mac-like to some extent, especially KDE 4.x. Calling X Windows a rip off of MS Windows is a rather uninformed comment.

  4. Excellent post Louis Wheeler.

    That’s exactly what’s happened. Google and Apple are the only two businesses that could ever remove the Microsoft stranglehold on computing.

    And it looks very much as though it is working. So, as you say, Schmidt’s job on Apple’s board is now complete.

  5. You know, Dave52, there I was going out on this limb and laying out this grand conspiracy. I was giving people a method by which they could verify whether a conspiracy existed. Then, you have to bring up a side issue which confuses us with history? LOL

    No, seriously. The whole point about Apple’s and Google’s combination is to stop making the computer world look so Microsoft centric. If there is such a conspiracy, it can’t be hidden for long.

    The X Windows system is a result of that ten year period when the Mac OS was the top GUI. So, X Windows was a UNIX response to it. But then, when Microsoft Windows became a virtual monopoly, X Windows took on much of the Windows look and feel. This issue is confused by the fact that Microsoft stole so much of its look and feel from the Mac OS. It is further confused from the fact that there is little unity among Linux distros.

    Linux didn’t exist back when X Windows was conceived. And Linux wouldn’t exist, at all, if BSD hadn’t been in a lawsuit with AT&T and looked as though Open Source would be dead, so Linus Torvalds wrote Minux. He said that if BSD had looked viable and open, he wouldn’t have bothered.

    Let’s fast forward to today. You can’t deny how much the X Windows borrows from Windows, can you?

    I was pushing the point that it would be good for both Google and Apple if Chrome had the Mac look and feel. That would differentiate it from the other Linux distos. And it would bring the conspiracy out into the open too late for Microsoft to do anything about.

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