“Apple is the prospector, the trailblazer. Microsoft is the Borg. Apple’s technology tends to work extremely well and is intuitive. Microsoft’s works with everything, eventually. Microsoft will never, ever, ever come up with a piece of functional engineering as breathtakingly beautiful as the iMac. Still, Apple [supposedly] lost the operating system war. So it went elsewhere,” Bill Mann writes for The Motley Fool.
“Its jiujitsu moves are paying off. First and foremost, the smashing success of the iPod digital music players, where Apple has managed to introduce product lines in succession without cannibalizing itself. This was an extremely smart move, since music management has turned out to be a killer app. Apple’s iPod and iTunes have become the default as the company has exploited two elements: its design and usability prowess and a marketplace fractured with standard and interoperability issues. If you don’t know what operates with what, your default is to go with the one you know works well, and that’s the iPod,” Mann writes.
“You can see how prevalent this tool is by regarding the actions of Apple’s competition: Napster has essentially ceded the pay-per-download market to Apple by focusing its marketing on monthly subscriptions — in my opinion a strategy that is a loser, since Napster doesn’t work with, you guessed it, iPods,” Mann writes. “What the iPod has managed to do is kick-start and revive the operating system war. If your most cherished technological possession (besides the portable electronic I-Ching, of course) is your iPod, and you’re at the point of replacement for your computer, why not consider a Mac? Moreover, Microsoft has helped here with its consistently-under-viral-Spyware-and-adware bombardment Internet browser and email client. People who primarily use their computers for browsing, communications, and music management have a new low-cost, hassle-free, typically awesome product for these purposes, the Mac Mini.”
“Essentially, Apple has reinvigorated the operating system battle with Microsoft by focusing on everything but operating systems. Given its low level of penetration, it doesn’t have to take much of the market in order to make a huge difference to its bottom line,” Mann writes.
Read the full article for context here.
You can also vote for either Apple or Microsoft in The Motley Fool’s Stock Madness 2005 poll here. Microsoft currently leads Apple 66% to 34%. You know what to do.