Linked by Howard Fosdick on Mon 13th Dec 2010 23:11 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless It's hard to predict the future because we humans prefer to think in terms of familiar paradigms. Even the most brilliant of our species are subject to this flaw. Now, Microsoft faces its turn. The owner of the operating system that likely runs your personal computer, the company that achieved monopoly with Windows and ducked the Department of Justice's scythe to keep it, faces a midlife crisis as the world goes gaga over portable consumer devices. This is the story of what's happening to Microsoft in the handheld operating system markets -- and how it parallels the earlier, similar journeys of IBM Corporation and Digital Equipment Corporation. Can Microsoft achieve dominance on mobile devices?
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...nearly the exact thing was predicted regarding Microsoft and the Internet around 1994-1995.

This prompted the famous, 1995, "Internet Tidal Wave Memorandum," from Bill Gates to MS Executives. He outlined (basically) that MS had totally missed the boat when it came to the importance of the Internet and its bearing on the future of Microsoft itself.

Gates directed a massive shift of resources in order to play catch-up. And I believe they caught up quite quickly.

The difference there is that:
1. most people still didn't have internet access, where as most people now do have mobile phones

2. even though MS were lagging behind re the internet, people still bought into their core businesses (ie Windows and Office). If people buy Android or iOS handsets, MS lose business.

3. and because those people were already tied into Windows, it was relatively easy to switch them to MS's own web-products. Where as if people are using iPhones or Android, it's harder to convince them to switch to a new and unfamiliar platform.

4. and finally, I'd argue that MS haven't really caught up in regards to the internet:
4a. ok, they did gain a monopoly with IE, but that's gone again now.
4b. They've had numerous failed search engines and only now gaining any kind of presence there with Bing (and that's largely due to their deal with Yahoo),
4c. Google (et al) have eaten away their cloud-email market share,
4d. MS still don't have much of anything in the social networking.
4e. And even sharepoint seems to be struggling in the private sector - though governments have adopted it. Though I will concede that this is based purely on the jobs I've applied for in the last year so my anecdotal evidence might be misleading.

In short - I can see the logic in your comparison, but I don't really think it's a fair one.

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