Enderle: What if Microsoft bought Apple?

“I spent a lot of time last week reading the Microsoft employee blogs and apparently there is some reasonably strong feeling among many folks who work there that the wrong ‘Steve’ is running the company. This is, in my view, a ‘grass is greener on the other side of the fence’ type of perception — since ‘the other Steve,’ Jobs, that is, is neither known for being a good software guy nor being anywhere near as employee-focused as Microsoft’s executives are. He does, however, have skills that Microsoft could use desperately right now,” Rob Enderle writes for TechNewsWorld. “Clearly there would be some anti-trust hurdles in an acquisition of Apple by Microsoft, but the oil companies seem to be able to get through those reasonably well and both Apple and Microsoft have clearly done the ‘impossible’ before. Setting these concerns aside, let’s imagine what might result from such a merger.”

“While it is easy to point to the acquisition of NeXT by Apple as an example of when a purchase fixed a problem like the one Microsoft had recently with Vista, Apple really isn’t an OS company, and Microsoft’s problem is vastly broader than just its OS,” Enderle writes.

MacDailyNews Take: Uh oh, Rob’s clearly off his meds again. Microsoft’s “problem” with Vista is happening now, so “had” should be “has” in Rob’s last sentence. Enderle states, “Apple really isn’t an OS company.” What’s that supposed to mean? Apple right now offers what is simply the world’s best operating system; a feat they’ve accomplished at least three times before with totally different, unique OSes, by the way. Is Rob about to tell his readers that Microsoft wrote the first Mac OS again?

Enderle continues, “Microsoft has lost the support of many of its critical employees, partners and customers, and even the U.S. government shows little interest in protecting the company from foreign threats. Microsoft has a major image problem and an apparent inability to either recognize or deal with it. In addition, Microsoft appears to have a leadership problem, one it likely shares with companies like GE, GM, and Ford these days, where the executives are isolated, regularly tricked into making bad decisions, and aren’t taken very seriously. Broad image problems are the responsibility of marketing and public relations executives. While Apple’s public relations is mixed, its marketing is second to none and, having made the mistake of comparing potential customers to lemmings years ago, the company would probably immediately see that referring to its own customers as dinosaurs for not buying their latest offering, wasn’t particularly wise.”

“According to the Microsoft blogs, the one place inside Microsoft that doesn’t have many problems is the Mac Business Unit, which is arguably more closely connected with Apple than Microsoft these days. This would indicate a strong foundation for the belief that Apple could help Microsoft — but could Microsoft help Apple? Why Apple Needs Microsoft: The obvious word here is ‘Office,’ but recall that Microsoft provided Apple with critical funding (US$150 million) when it was about to go under so that the firm could come out with new hardware and finish its new operating system. In addition, Microsoft, in continuing to support Apple with Microsoft Office, allows Apple to sell in a lot of places it otherwise would be locked out of,” Enderle writes.

MacDailyNews Take: Microsoft’s $150 million was a dog and pony show for the media, not “critical funding.” Even in the dark days of 1997, Apple had $4.233 billion in total assets at the time Microsoft purchased those long-ago-sold $150 million in non-voting Apple shares. The real deals there were Microsoft’s promise to support Office for the Mac for 5 years (a promise that they’ve recently restated) and the payment to Apple by Microsoft of an “undisclosed” amount to settle the “look and feel” legal issues.

Enderle continues, “Imagine what would result if a new Apple OS was based on the new Windows kernel rather than on Unix.”

MacDailyNews Take: LOL! Yeah, just imagine. Imagine also, if you will, that Ben & Jerry’s replaced sugar and cream with sand and crude oil. Yum, yum! Imagine how quickly we’d switch to Linux if this particular bit of Enderlunacy came true.

Enderle continues, “Apple’s machines are long on usability but short on interoperability, which is almost the mirror opposite of Microsoft products like Media Center. In fact, Microsoft could help dramatically in getting Apple platform products to work seamlessly in Windows environments and make a Media Center product jointly developed vastly more attractive and profitable.”

MacDailyNews Take: Ooh, goody! Microsoft can help Apple make products that are long on interoperability and short on usability. Our proposed marketing slogan: “They don’t work very well, but they sure can interoperate!” We can see the midnight lines forming already.

Enderle continues, “Now, an Apple-Microsoft merger may not necessarily be a good idea because it may go too far. Much of what makes both companies interesting is what is unique to each firm. I honestly don’t see a chance that the U.S. government would allow such a merger to take place anyway. But how about a broad partnership? If Apple’s next generation OS — Leopard — was ready now the company could take some market share from Microsoft in the 4th quarter, but Apple probably wouldn’t be able to hold onto it. All reports say Leopard won’t be ready until 2007, after Vista ships, anyway.”

MacDailyNews Take: In all of the reports that we’ve read and covered, Apple is slated to release Leopard, the next release of OS X, either late 2006 or early 2007. Vista’s most-recent slip has it being released in January 2007. Based upon past performance, no one should have any confidence that Microsoft will hit that date. Besides, if properly introduced to the world, Apple’s Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar — which debuted years ago — could take share from Microsoft’s Windows, as could Mac OS X 10.3 Panther and 10.4 Tiger. Apple doesn’t need a “next-gen” Leopard when even their old Jaguar would stun 90-percent of the PC-using world with its UI and features. Sigh. If only Apple did a better job of showing the world the Mac and the benefits it offers…

Enderle continues, “What if Apple worked with Microsoft to make the iPod ‘Plays for Sure’-compliant, and Microsoft worked with Apple to make the Mac OS a true peer platform to Windows?”

MacDailyNews Take: Yeah, what if Apple made the iPod compliant with all of the online music services that nobody uses? One can only imagine the wide-ranging non-effects. What if the Mac OS became a “true peer platform” to Windows, whatever that means? Since it’s an Enderle suggestion, we’ll assume that whatever he thinks it means is pure stupidity.

Enderle continues, “Employees might also move more freely between the firms, providing a formal system of cross-pollenation in skills and practices that both could use.”

MacDailyNews Take: Yeah, Microsofties could go down to Cupertino whenever they wanted company-provided towels or stock options that don’t chart like a parking lot. Apple employees could head on up to Redmond whenever they want a dose of stifling bureaucracy or a tutorial on how to create tangled, bloated code coupled with unintelligible, ugly user interfaces. A perfect world indeed; like an Elvis existence: too high, take a downer; too down, take an upper. We can see the human resources videos already: “Apple employees, are you too happy, too optimistic? Do you think different and see a world where anything is possible? You need a dose of reality: transfer to Microsoft today!” “Microsoft employees, are you suicidal, trapped in your cubical, stifled under layers of retarded bureaucracy? Do you like the comfort of group think and are perfectly content with “good enough” results? It’s time for a trip to Cupertino!”

Enderle continues, “This is all an ideal-case scenario, and things seldom work that way. Apple historically has not been a good partner and the distrust that surrounds Microsoft is near legendary. Still, stranger things have happened. While neither company is in critical shape at the moment it does appear that both firms need each other right now — with an urgency that is unprecedented.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: iMacs in earthquakes and Paris Hilton in an Apple Store! Whenever you think Enderle can’t go any deeper off the end, he does it.

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Related articles:
Enderle: Microsoft employees voice concerns about working for dysfunctional company – March 29, 2006
Big surprise: Enderle was wrong about Apple’s holiday quarter Mac sales – January 19, 2006
Enderle: Microsoft’s ‘PlaysForSure’ going to be a long-term problem for Apple – January 09, 2006
Enderle: Apple+Intel could be wonderful for those of us that love design and use Windows – December 26, 2005
Tech pundit Enderle: ‘Microsoft wrote the first Mac OS’ – September 28, 2005
Enderle: ‘iPod Halo Effect is just a myth, same thing as having Paris Hilton visit Apple stores’ – May 02, 2005
Tech Pundit Enderle: ‘This year will be more difficult for Apple Computer’ and iMacs in earthquakes – January 24, 2005
Enderle: maybe it’s time for Apple and Sun to merge – August 10, 2004


  1. I’m sure not even Enderle has enough fingers to count the reasons why this is a bad idea and would never ever happen.

    It makes you wonder whether Enderle just has a little tombola on his desk dishing out company names in case deadline is approaching.





    “Hmmm…..What if Microsoft defies all logic, the legal ramifications, a shareholder revolt, and the lack of cash….and buys APPLE??? OK, I need 800 words…..here goes.”

    The only respect I’ve got for the man is how he’s managed to fool the tech press into taking him seriously. Money for old rope Rob. Well done!

  2. When referring to Steve as “not a software guy”, who was he comparing him to at Microsoft? Steve Ballmer (the marketing guy), Bill Gates (the guy that took other people’s software and sold it) or someone else? Hey, at least Steve wrote the original Breakout!

  3. If M$ bought apple (assuming the Gov approved) then I would bet that most Apple employees would abandon ship. Most loyal Mac consumers would also. M$ would then own something that would evaporate and Apple would disappear. Even if it did survive the merger, one company making two OSs that compete with each other would just lead to confusion. Merging OSX into Windows actually would be good technically but I don’t think current Windows users would appreciate that. Merging Windows into OSX would be ridiculous. I can’t see any value in this endeavor.

  4. I read somewhere, can’t remember where, that M$s $150 million investment in Apple was payment for lifting code from Quicktime and used in one of their earlier media players. M$ also tried to strongarm Apple into dropping Quicktime and supporting Windows Media Player.

    word=together…M$+Apple, never!

  5. another reason I visit MDN, hack writers get less web hits, Thanks. If it did happen, Revolution, riots in the streets, Bill’s home street would look like W’s in Crawford TX., with Cindy Sheehans all over the place.

  6. “Clearly there would be some anti-trust hurdles in an acquisition of Apple by Microsoft”

    That must count as the understatment of the year! Neither the FTC nor the European Union would approve such a merger, so it’s dead before it’s even happened.

    BTW, did anyone check the *date* on Enderle’s story?

  7. Imagine if Adobe bought Macromedia and killed Freehand and Dreamweaver and further reduced the options available to Mac users and continued to develop full featured versions to Windows only.

  8. Hey Rob try to overcome your undermedicated haze for just a second and see the “vista” that this thing you call a “true peer platform” is what the EU complaint is all about!

    How about you revise this part of the sentence to “and Microsoft worked honestly” with developers to provide accurate documentation to allow non-Microsoft products to be true peer platforms to Windows.”

    Oh that’s right because the 20th century monopolists in Redmond would die a much faster 21st century death than they already are!

  9. “While neither company is in critical shape at the moment it does appear that both firms need each other right now — with an urgency that is unprecedented.”

    Apple moved up over 100 spots in the Fortune 500. It’s 1-year growth in profits ranks it 11th. It’s 1-year growth in revenues ranks it 13th. It’s stock price has had several years of astronomical increases. Macs are gaining market share. iPods/iTMS dominates its market.

    Exactly what “unprecedented urgency” would drive Apple to need Microsoft?

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