In a war of attrition, Microsoft will beat Apple again

Microsoft is behind in phones and tablets but will find a way to get ahead.

By InvestorPlace Nov 7, 2012 12:46PM


 Tom Grill CorbisBy Charles Sizemore


Apple (AAPL) is getting a lot of attention recently due to its earnings release. Several weeks ago, I asked in TraderPlanet if it was time to dump Apple, and I think the answer is increasingly "yes." Though the company remains wildly profitable, earnings missed estimates this quarter, and there is a sneaking realization that Apple's competitors are catching up.

But today, it's not Apple I want to talk about. It's Apple's erstwhile PC rival Microsoft (MSFT). (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)

Microsoft was the undisputed winner of the PC era, but the company hasn't quite found its way in the era of Web 2.0 and social media. The smartphone war is down to two main combatants in software -- Apple and Google (GOOG) -- and two in hardware -- Apple again and Samsung. And despite coming out with a tablet years before anyone else, Microsoft has been left behind on this front as well.

Things are about to change. With the long-awaited release of Windows 8, Microsoft is making a real push into the world of touchscreens and tablets.

Apple launched the first offensive in the smartphone and tablet wars, but in a long-term war of attrition it is doomed to lose for the same reasons that it lost the original PC war. Apple has always maintained a closed ecosystem and insists on making its own hardware and software. Steve Jobs' pigheadedness is the reason why it was the Wintel platform and not the Mac that came to dominate the desktop and laptop markets.

It's all happening again. Apple again jumped out to a huge lead, but it will lose the war in the end.

And what about Google? I like Google and I personally use an Android phone. But I believe that in a long war it is Microsoft that will win. I question whether Google really takes Android seriously. It's a free product that generates revenues only indirectly by encouraging mobile web browsing via Google's search engine.

Meanwhile, Microsoft knows how to manage corporate clients, and corporate IT departments are comfortable with Microsoft products to a degree that they will never be with Google or Apple.

As a value investor, I often get into trades too early. No matter how I might try to game myself to avoid this, it seems to be hardwired into my DNA as an investor. So it's entirely possible that I am early this time as well.

That's ok. If Microsoft takes longer than I expect to rise to the top, we still get to collect its 3.3% dividend and benefit from owning one of the cheapest major blue-chip stocks in the world.

Microsoft is a buy.

This article first appeared on TraderPlanet.

More from InvestorPlace

Nov 7, 2012 1:40PM
You are 100 percent right msft is good buy. They have a strong backbone even though they spend a little too much on some things. But that is good for the company they buy right? They need to quick spending so much on advertising and just spend money selling their products. They need to sell them on street corners or at any public event. They should act as if they are a product that has never been seen before. Otherwise knowone will ever see them. Mainly because people have two other companies that they see before ever seeing the new windows lines. But msft has their own strategy and they have proven successful without my input.
Nov 7, 2012 1:31PM
Microsoft's business is software. Microsoft's primary customer has always been enterprises and enterprise developers and workers. Microsoft owns 85% of those customers but now has awaken to the fact that adding a modern touch based user interface to their existing Windows OS they can emerge as a new player in the mobile consumer software ecospace. Microsoft's OS convergence is going to give Apple and Google some real competition that they both have been needing for quite awhile. Let the consumer mobile device wars begin.
Nov 7, 2012 7:53PM
This actually makes a lot of sense.  I recently purchased the Microsoft Surface tablet and am waiting for the release of Windows Phone 8X on Verizon and am sure that there may be many others like myself who are very impressed with Microsoft's recent offerings.
Nov 7, 2012 2:20PM

Microsoft has not had a good new idea in over 10 years.  Thye still have a lot of clout but they are perpetually playng catch-up.  Say what you will about Steve Jobs, but he was a product and marketing genius.  He predicted that Microsoft would wither, because it used to be run by product guy, and now it is run by a sales guy.  Apple makes products that people love.becuase they are easy to use and they always work.  That is what you can get when you keep a tight conrol on your product.


I have a Android phone and I wish it was an I-phone.  People can pick an i-phone and figure how to do almost everything in a short period ot time.  With my android phone everything is more complicated.  I do not need a phone to do more.  I need to phone that does it better and does so effortlessly,

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