12 for 12 #5: Apple is the new Microsoft

Posted in: Analysis  
12 for 12 #5: Apple is the new Microsoft

In our predictions at the start of the year as part of our '12 for 12' series, I said: ‘Apple is the new Microsoft.’ Thus far my prediction has proved correct – as the technology market continues to expand and grow, Apple continues to rocket sales and popularity across the globe. Apple is in a much stronger position than Microsoft in the nineties and its dominant position will have a number of consequences. The fact that Apple now sells more iPads than Dell does PCs reinforces the importance of mobile web. On the downside there is the danger of slowing innovation – Lion appears to have reversed the trend of leaner and swifter iterations set by ‘Snow Leopard.’

The next step for Apple is expected to be an Apple TV set which will see the simplest user interface yet and marks further incursion into consumer electronics. After a period of Android phones steadily catching up the iPhone 4S proved that Apple can still move ahead of the market and bodes well for the iPhone 5 when it arrives (possibly 2013). The 'new' iPad pushes Apple's tablet product so much further ahead of the competition there seems almost no point in buying the alternatives.

And Microsoft? Still scrabbling to get attention for the Windows Phone. It may be good, but as they're late to market it seems no-one cares. Microsoft's main problem will be to create a large pool of apps to tempt users of other smartphones to switch. However, you need to be a Microsoft developer to get into this (so those iOS devs will not be tempted and Java aficionados on Android won't like it) and if you're already developing mobile apps for iOS and Android, would you want yet another platform to include (and this slows your release productivity)? The indie developers will not; only larger software houses will be able to cope.

One area where Microsoft trumps Apple is in console gaming; the Xbox is a real success story and competes well with Sony's Playstation 3. Apple have no heritage in this sector so unless they acquire a smaller player and build on their technology I think they will not even try to compete. Unfortunately for Microsoft, their Entertainment Division has only recently started providing modest profits after many years of big losses so while they may be relatively successful here it doesn't compare to the massive profits Apple rake in.

Apple became the biggest company in the world in terms of valuation in August 2011 and is in a stronger position than Microsoft was in the mid to late nineties. With the new iPad the market capitalisation is now over $500 billion and growing. 2012 and beyond will see growing convergence between the handheld iOS of iPhone and iPad with Mac OS given that Mac sales now constitute a minor part of Apple's revenue. As new gadgets are released regularly the Apple fan base continues to grow across the globe.

See how we did with our previous prediction: '12 for 12 #4: Not all about cost: did we get it wrong?'

- James Hull

Do you agree Apple is the new Microsoft? How long can the growth momentum keep going? Feel free to post your comments below.

 


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