Windows Success = iPhone Success

When I was growing up, Brian and I used to play computer games at his house because he had two computers networked together so we could play each other. We’d play Wolfenstien, Duke Nukem and Descent on his super fast 100 Mhz machines until way past when I should have been home. Amidst the violence and explosions, we talked about computers. Brian was a PCs, I was a Mac.We argued just like a billion other people have all around the world – Mac is better, PC is better. My arguments were good, but Brian’s was simple.

“PC just has more games.”

He was right. While the Mac did have some incredible games, there were way more for PC, and I would never convince Brian that Mac was better because it just had more games.

It’s true of applications too. As soon as Windows became the OS leader, it was forever after the leader in applications. People used Windows because of the applications. It became a point of differentiation that Microsoft didn’t actually create; the market created it around them. It caused a cycle: people develop software for the platform that gets used, and the more software there is for that platform, the more attractive it is to users. Windows thrived on this cycle for years.

Then the internet changed what is important about a computer.
Internet Penetration
As the web has matured, so have web applications. As computer users spend more time online in cloudware and less time on their computer’s software, the less important the operating system. It could be for this reason alone that Apple’s market share has been growing (however slightly) over the last few years. People (like myself) started saying “as long as I can use Microsoft Office, I don’t have any other compatibility issues, and the Mac is so cool. I want one.”

I now use my Mac at work and amazingly face basically no capability problems. Sure, now and again one of my Word docs or PowerPoints gets munged, but most of the work that I do takes place on the internet, the company intranet, Gmail, Google calendar, and Google docs. With all these web apps, the question is “Who needs windows?”

Not me.

Now for the riddle: “How is windows like the iPhone?” You guessed it, the answer is the same as Brian’s: “It just has more games.” Well, ok, not just games, but apps.
Tons of apps. Like, more than Window’s Mobile. Today, developers have the choice of developing software for the iPhone or other similar gadgets. While iPhone does not (yet) have the largest market share for smartphones, it has the highest usage rates among its competitors. And developers don’t care if people are buying the phones; they care if people are buying their apps, and it is more than clear that if you want apps, you want an iPhone. The market has already given iPhone Eventually, the same cycle of more users – more apps – more users that has fed Microsoft for so many years might actually lead to Apple taking over this market. Time will tell.
Speaking of time going by – after Brian and I graduated from high school, he went to college and studied computer science. He bought a Mac and loves it. He does, however, still have Vista machine so he can play Unreal Tournament when his wife goes to bed.
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