Analysts like to toss around ideas and guesses about tech companies. The value of the biggest technology companies is astronomical, with Apple holding the title for most valuable tech company in the U.S. Someone will eventually topple Apple, and Mark Fidelman has voiced his opinion on Forbes. Fidelman thinks that Microsoft is the company to take on Apple in the coming years. He actually thinks that Microsoft will overtake within the next 3 years.
Fidelman bases his analysis on the fact that Microsoft's Windows Phone is currently the fastest growing mobile operating system. We know that Android holds a dominating global marketshare, with Apple coming in second and everyone else falling in behind. As a matter of fact, Android has an estimated 81% global marketshare. Apple's share actually dropped in the third quarter, from 14.4% to 12.9%. Windows Phone grew from 2% to 3.6%, and saw the largest growth percentage year-over-year at 156%. If anyone is going to overtake Apple in the next few years, it seems obvious that Microsoft would be the one to do it.
Fidelman also points to the improving integration between Windows Phone, Windows on the desktop, and the Xbox. On paper, this integration looks like a really solid point. Microsoft could make these platforms integrate really well, but so far they haven't come through on that front. With the launch of the Xbox One and the new Windows 8.1, the company is closer than ever to true, deep integration between its operating systems. Fidelman is banking on this happening:
"As Microsoft rolls out its integration capabilities to business people across the enterprise through Office 365 and Windows 8.1, and to consumers through the Xbox, Microsoft will pick up a lot of new users that are looking for seamless app integration across their business and home lives," Fidelman says. "Most people will not want their information stuck in separate operating systems for much longer."
The problem is simply that Microsoft has not been able to create this level of integration yet. The company is fragmented and the Xbox, Windows Phone, and Windows desktop teams don't communicate like they should. Microsoft is trying to change this, of course, but changing the course of a giant corporation takes time. They've been working on it for years now. With the acquisition of Nokia's hardware division, maybe the dream of "One Microsoft" will actually happen.
We have to mention that Fidelman has a personal interest in seeing Microsoft grow. A note at the end of his Forbes article reads "Disclosure: Nokia is a customer of Evolve! a company that Fidelman is a Managing Director." A little research uncovers that Evolve! is a "social and digital marketing organization that blends influential people and the media with social campaigns to create high awareness and leads for our customers." So Fidelman is a Managing Director at a marketing firm that has been hired by Nokia. This conflict of interest doesn't mean that he isn't making valid points.
Microsoft is without a doubt the company in the best spot to take on Apple. Apple's high margins and high prices aren't sustainable in an electronics market where consumers expect prices to decrease over time. Unless Apple changes the way they do business, their luxury status will cause consumers to look elsewhere. There will always be a niche customer who is interested in overpaying for their niche product. But consumers overall are wising up. Microsoft could be in a good position to knock Apple down a peg.