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Apple: Perception of Dominance

The emergence of the iPod and its rapid adoption gave Apple the keys to explosive growth. From the iPod to the iTouch, iPhone and now the iPad, the think tank at Apple has found a way to make their products more than electronic gizmos designed for everyday use. CEO Steve Jobs has masterfully sold investors and the public on the 'experience' of these devices. The public is buying and profits are great for Apple; even in the current economic downturn. It appears that Apple has an app and device to fit any situation; but how dominate is Apple? Is this dominance a perception or fact?

Apple to Apples...
Many comparisons have been made about the differences of Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. The general consensus is that Windows is unstable and inferior where Mac OS X is clearly superior from UI to stability. Given the mass appeal of the Apple's device designs; you could be left to believe that there really isn't any use for the Windows platform other than to view spreadsheets and crunch numbers.

Generally, it is easy to forget that Microsoft's strength and stock in trade is software, whereas Apple is grounded in a proprietary model. From Apple's inception Apple built software to run on its proprietary hardware. This legacy goes back to the days when computer companies built their own systems from scratch and marketed those systems to build brand awareness and generate sales. Microsoft chose to build compatible software to run on initially the IBM PC which eventually led to Microsoft's MS-DOS to be installed and ran on different PC manufactures' systems.

I'm a PC, You're a Fanboy...
Looking over the years, you can see the effect that the two business models have had on both companies. In the early eighties, Microsoft was a new startup kind of company while Apple was the darling of the industry, by the nineties the roles had changed as Microsoft rose in stature and Apple all but disappeared from the scene.

Changes in technology pushed the companies in different directions as well as market share and size. Due to Microsoft's expansive growth in the PC market, Apple chose to stick with what worked best which was the proprietary model it started with. By the early 2000's; file sharing sites like Napster led to the development and popularity of the mp3 player.

This gave Apple the opportunity to innovate and tap into a growing market which Microsoft wasn't quite quick to jump into. Over time, Apple continued to develop new and appealing products like the iPhone. Apple's experience of building hardware has helped Apple develop a line of products consistent with what the public is currently looking for in personal use devices.

Microsoft's, relative inexperience in hardware development has hindered Microsoft's ability to capitalize on new trends in the marketplace. The development of the XBOX 360 for Microsoft has been a large success, but it could be said that the success of its' online gaming service; XBOX Live, has made a bigger splash. It's a recurring theme with both companies; both enjoy being the 'top dog' at different times.

Why Can't We Be Friends?
Fast forward to today; where we have Mac stores and ads showcasing the hip, fresh Apple device of choice. A healthy dose of perspective is needed to understand that despite Apple's apparent ubiquity; Microsoft is also enjoying its own measure of widespread success. Windows 7, the company's latest os offering; has been widely hailed as a great release by consumers and industry insiders alike.

Kinect, the motion sensing device designed for the revamped XBOX 360 console has also been widely praised as a victory for Microsoft. Apple is enjoying a fair amount of visibility these days, and without question well deserved. In every segment that Apple is succeeding in however; its competitors are also chipping away at Apple's lead and looking for an opportunity to innovate. Google has risen in size and stature that rivals both Microsoft and Apple.

Google has the largest search engine, a widely accepted browser and a phone operating system in Android that has seen rapid acceptance in the mobile phone segment. Like Microsoft, Google places emphasis on software rather than hardware, but it does have products that are exclusively designed and marketed for Google. The company is a kind of hybrid in its business model; a little Microsoft and a little Apple. The industry is starting to see that just like Apple and Microsoft before, it is clearly becoming Google's time to shine.

Dominance? No. Perception? Yes. The eighties belonged to Sony; the Walkman and later the Discman. Those devices' popularity was the equivalent of Apple's iPod, iPhone and recently; iPad. History has clearly proven that the 'dominance factor' that Sony enjoyed was simply an arc in time that all innovative companies share. Soon we will be looking back on Apple's past triumphs while marveling at the newest company enjoying the market accolades that Apple used to. Maybe it won't be a device; but some form of bio-tech interface. Either way, we'll know soon enough.

By C. Imanon


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