Is Microsoft the new Apple?
This week's hyped rollouts of the Surface tablet and Windows Phone 8 OS has the tech world abuzz, leading some to wonder if Microsoft has Apple-fied its image.
By most measures, Apple (AAPL) stands astride the tech world like a colossus, conquering one gadget class after another -- digital music players, smartphones, tablets -- and making almost unimaginable profits from its buzzy, innovative objects of tech desire.
At the same time, Microsoft (MSFT) -- which had crushed Apple into near-irrelevance 13 years ago -- went from resting on its Windows/Office laurels to "sinking ship" territory.
Not anymore, says Gizmodo's Adrian Covert. With this week's dual rollout of its Surface tablet and Windows Phone 8 operating system, plus other recent innovations like SmartGlass and the Kinect, "I'm a believer that Microsoft is the most innovative consumer tech company right now. No, seriously." (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)
Has Microsoft, in essence, become the new Apple?
Apple has been eclipsed: I almost can't believe I'm saying this, but Microsoft is now "the most exciting company in tech, hands down," says Gizmodo's Covert. Apple had a good run, but Microsoft is on a tear, creating gorgeous, user-friendly software, and now hardware that's "damn near seductive" and geared toward future growth. "Even more crucially, Microsoft has been improving on existing ideas, rather than just making competent facsimiles" of Apple and Google products.
No. It's Apple's world, and Microsoft just lives in it: Building the Surface "is a bold move," but it seems more a rushed reaction to Apple's ascendancy than a rebirth, says John Gruber at Daring Fireball. Thanks to the dominance of its highly profitable iPads, iPhones, and Macs, "Apple is now the strongest and most successful company in the world, across any and all industries." Microsoft is being forced to adapt because its business model of selling expensive software for cheap hardware is unsustainable.
Microsoft has at least achieved Apple-level buzz: Nobody knows how Microsoft's new products will stack up in the real world, says Preston Gralla at Computerworld. But "when it comes to PR and hype," it's pretty clear that "Microsoft is the new Apple." Just look at the Surface rollout -- for days beforehand, Microsoft saw the type of "hyperventilation" and wild rumors "normally reserved for Apple announcements or coverage of the choice of a new pope." The event itself was meh -- "Steve Ballmer is no Steve Jobs, and never will be" -- but even if the Surface flops versus the iPad, Apple just lost one crown to Microsoft, "the new king of PR."
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There is a reason Mirosoft based products were more impacted by viruses than others. The sheer number of MS users were vastly greater than anything else.
MS is definitely behind in the mobile market but I don't see any competition in laptops and desktops. Many are predicting the demise of laptops and desktops but I simply do not see it. I have a smart phone, 10" tablet, WIndows i7 laptop, and AMD Quad Code desktop. My personal favorite: the laptop. Portable enough to use from my couch. Powerful enough to work with any software. A full user-friendly experience.
I love my smart phone and tablet for amusing myself over short perdiods of time.
Anyone who refers to MS as irrelevant or inept simply has not worked in technology. I have worked with major organizations and many would not trust their security and production to any other vendor. Windows 7 and Windows 8 are outstanding. Best of all...they aren't fads that will fade in the wind.
What PR? I still haven't seen an advertisement for the Surface (and I thought iPad was a lame name) and it's been almost a week since the announcement. Didn't hear anything about it before the announcement either, just a writeup in the business section of my local paper (Austin) the day after the announcement.
And have you seen their new stores? Complete ripoff of the Apple store concept, except white with that multi-color logo instead of Apple's platinum and white logo. They opened one here about a month or so ago less than a block from the Apple Store. I didn't see any hype about the opening before hand, and nothing on the local news that night. I happened to drop by accidently that day and they had a line and a little circus-like setup of booths from Dell, etc., but since then, there's been fewer than a dozen customers in the store any time I've gone by, while the Apple Store down the block has more customers than it can deal with (2-3 dozen, easy) at 3:00 on a weekday.
First thought I had as a Skype user when MS acquired it was, "hmm, I hope they don't screw it up. " They over-design and make software clunky by not knowing when to stop, and the hardware has never been very impressive.
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All hail the bull market, which ended the week with a big rally. But it also is starting to look a little like 1987, which suffered an epic blow-out.
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