I can’t stop thinking about Microsoft.

On Monday, I wrote about the fall of Microsoft and the rise of its competitors over the last several years, most notably, Apple.

While I know there were various factors at play as the companies swapped places in their race to be the most innovative tech companies on the planet, I couldn’t help but think of one specific difference between the two tech giants that was related to something we’ve discussed here before .

In June of 2008, Bill Gates, the visionary that created the Microsoft brand and the man responsible for its global domination at the beginning of the computer age, stepped down as the head of his company.  And I’m sure in the years before that, he was working in a diminished capacity which was just kept quiet so as to not alarm the shareholders.

At the same time that Mr. Gates was backing off, Steve Jobs, the man behind the Apple brand, who rescued it from almost becoming obsolete, was seizing more control and was even more active in the operations of the company, despite fighting pancreatic cancer.

In other words, at Apple, the lead producer, the man with one, singular sensational vision, was still in the game.

Now, Bill G. retired to do incredibly philanthropic work, so I’m certainly not faulting him for his incredibly generous move.

But one has to wonder . . . if the man who convinced IBM to buy a non-proprietary operating system was still running the company, would they be where they are now?

Maybe . . . like Jobs, Bill will come back.

I don’t know.  Tech isn’t my industry.

But I do know that in our business, as I wrote about in this blog, if you want your shows to keep on working, the guy who put the boat in the water has gotta keep sailing it, or it’ll sink.

  • Randy says:

    I don’t think we have to lament for Microsoft. As you note in a previous post, technology is moving at a dizzying pace. I think we’re going to see the top spot changing hands fairly frequently over the next couple of decades due to any number of factors. One, which you also pointed out, is that sometimes things move a little too quickly and suffer for it. In my opinion, Apple will always (unless their philosophy changes) have the drawback of being a closed system. I don’t want to be locked into Apple’s world of products no matter how good they are. Android is gaining fast: “Most of [Android’s] growth has come to the detriment of RIM’s Blackberry smartphones. For the quarter ending in September, RIM was the leading smartphone in the US at 37.3% of the market. However, that market share dropped 2.8% from the previous quarter. At the same time, Android grew 6.5% in the same period to grab 21.4% of the overall smartphone market in the US.
    “The iPhone stayed the same for the recent quarter compared to the previous with 24.3% of the market.” [http://androidcommunity.com/android-steals-ground-from-rim-according-to-comscore-20101105/%5D
    Or maybe they’ll just completely separate into their niches based on lifestyle [http://www.intomobile.com/2010/11/04/how-iphone-android-and-blackberry-users-see-each-other/%5D.
    It’s going to be a constant (exhausting) footrace with occasional stumbles by all.

  • David Moon says:

    Outside of the OS market, I don’t even see where Microsoft is directly competing with Apple, as Microsoft has never done well with hardware. PCs still far outnumber Apple computers.
    Apple and Microsoft beware. Even with Apple in a great position, it’s still a brand and product line that’s vulnerable to emerging technologies and public adaption. Android this year started outselling the iPhone, which surely does not mean that the iPhone is marked for extinction (or Blackberry.) But it’s certainly not bulletproof. It’s back to Apple with it’s proprietary OS and hardware, against Google, with it’s open OS with several brands producing products that license the Android platform. Sounds like a familiar battle of yesteryear …

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