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The moment that defined Microsoft and Apple as companies

Microsoft and AppleThe year 2007 was the decisive time in the history of the computer regarding the outcome of the struggle between Microsoft and Apple. They both thought they had the next big thing in computing. Only one emerged a winner.

Microsoft had its MS Surface, a tabletop with multi-touch capabilities. Apple had the iPhone, need we say more? How many people have seen an MS Surface since the D5 Conference back in 2007? And how many have seen an Apple iPhone? The conference itself was historic if only for the fact that both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates appeared together in a joint interview.

Techies really believed, with a cultic frenzy, that MS and Apple were going to make redundant the mouse and keyboard, replacing it with multi-touch everywhere. Some techies speculated that Apple would extend the technology to iPods and to a yet undeveloped tablet by Apple. Multi-touch was the next big thing in technology. A few wild dreamers had hoped Apple would convert the Macs to touchscreen, but this has still yet to happen.

Everyone thought Microsoft would turn the world upside down once again, by embedding multi-touch computers in every surface imaginable. We all had hoped that the box that the computer was trapped in, would be destroyed and the computer would be freed up to live wherever the owner wished it to. There was a new battle brewing between the two who founded the computer industry.

Gates had cast his vision at D5, that any surface would serve as a screen for a projection that could be manipulated by the user. Every flat surface would serve as a surrogate computer. The only product Microsoft ever launched with the Surface technology was a line of appliances manufactured by Hewlett Packard, the TouchSmart. It was a concept that no one knew what do to with it. So, of course, it went the way of the dinosaur.

Later, the Zune and Windows Phone 7 were copycat launches by Microsoft, following Apple, mindlessly. Apple was the clear winner and the truly innovative company. They sold more than 250 million gadgets with iOS embedded, including iPad, iPod, and iPhone. Apple became the world’s most valuable tech company.

In only three years, Apple overtook Microsoft. In 2007, at the time of the conference, Apple had a valuation of $100 billion, as opposed to Microsoft’s $300 billion. However, now Apple sits at $343 billion and Microsoft at $210 billion. The stock market valuation is a prediction of future value, based on public confidence.

The quarterly revenues reflect the same outcome. In 2007, quarterly, Microsoft was bringing in $14 billion, over Apple’s $5 billion. Today, Microsoft can only squeeze $17 billion from the market quarterly, while Apple sucks $28 billion in quarterly revenues.

Microsoft really does not have any product leaders, no true innovative leaders, that is. Windows 8 is not strong enough to overturn the trends and the company lacks the balls necessary to sacrifice short-term revenue streams in order to pull out the big guns. PC-smartphone convergence has the huge potential to launch them ahead of Apple, but only if they give up a few other smaller projects. Microsoft has no history of innovative risks. So it is not likely to happen.

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