Windows and Microsoft once dominated the technical world and are now scrambling to find a new niche where they can once again take back the power they once held, and all of the profits that come with that power. Bill Gates changed the way "business as usual" was conducted and Microsoft with its premier product, Windows, controlled the PC and software market. But, as is so often the case, all good things must come to an end – and Microsoft's demise, though not only reason, but certainly the main reason, was caused by a little green robot called Android.
Bill Gates and his first advisory and menace, Steve Jobs, saw things differently – Jobs thought that one company should not only make the hardware, but also the software that would eventually run on that hardware. Gates felt that the real money was in the software that the user would use to connect to a faceless PC that sat under a desk and collected dust. The software had a face, or in this case, an interface that the customer could relate to and hopefully come to recognize and depend on, and in the era of PCs, Gates was correct.
That DOS, and then the Windows software, was licensed (read that as income) on practically every PC and laptop in the world, and made Microsoft money off each and every PC or laptop sold. Software enabled a pyramid effect where the more people that used it, the more developers would write software for it and the more programs available, the more people would buy it, and so on and so on. It was a brilliant idea and plan – you write the main coding for Windows and you keep making money off it, even with updates.
What Microsoft did not take into account was how much mobile devices would rock their world. A PC sits on the floor or on your desktop; you don't pick it up and carry it with you, there is simply no touching involved, except for the keyboard, but that is another article. With a mobile device, the hardware does matter in a big way. We hold a tablet and smartphone in our hands, we caress it and care about its looks and feel – is it comfortable to hold and operate, and do I look good using it. Most mobile purchasers buy strictly by the looks of the hardware, not the software running inside and this is a complete turnaround from the days of the PC.
Techie people do care about what type of Operating System (OS) their mobile devices are running, and most care about both the OS and the hardware. This is where Apple's Steve Jobs comes in, long an advocate of one manufacturer making both the hardware and software, caused the birth of the iPhone and iOS – inseparable, device and software. Jobs proved that you could offer a well-crafted device and software that worked only on that device, and then charge a premium price, making money off both hardware and software by blurring the lines between the two…it is an iPhone, period.
This worked out great for Apple when BlackBerry was its only true competitor. BlackBerry also had been making both hardware and a proprietary OS that worked only on its device, but BlackBerry, much like Microsoft, was slow to embrace the changes needed to compete with the mounting competition and was starting to show its age in both hardware and software.
Apple's biggest problem was growing all around it, but they were too smug to worry about a little green menace called Android – sort of the worm to their Apple. Android was a profit destroying force for Windows and iOS because it is based on the open Linux OS and Google is happy to give it away FREE…words that Microsoft and Apple greatly fear. Any manufacturer can use it and alter it any way they like and slap it on a phone.
True, it was a little "rough" when it first came out, but eventually, the Android phones' hardware and software caught up, and in some cases, surpassed the iPhone. Android's manufacturers were not afraid of making cheaper models that the world has devoured, just look at the charts where Android is holding 80-percent of the world's OS.
Microsoft was still licensing software for other manufacturers, most notably Nokia, but it could not generate what Windows did for the PC many years before. So few Windows phones were sold that developers did not want to waste their time making applications for the phone, heck Microsoft was paying developers to make apps. Without the software to drive the sales of their smartphones, they were dying a slow death. There are many changes happening at Microsoft and more to come with Steve Ballmer announcing his retirement.
This past week Microsoft bought Nokia hoping to become the new Apple, manufacturing the hardware and providing Windows software – an idea that has seen that day come and go. Oh, Microsoft still wants to license Windows to other manufacturers to make a Windows Phone, but not many will jump at that chance when Instagram will still not run on the OS.
Google made the software and gave it away; hoping to make billions of dollars other ways once the platform took off – in Google's case, this is advertising. You just cannot make much money on simply software anymore and in Window's case, Android stole that away from them by making software a free service.