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The current smartphone war seems to be quite familiar.
The characters remain the same but their names changed. Twenty years ago it was IBM, Apple, Microsoft, and Novell and now its RIM, Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
Once upon a time, IBM had a strong hold on the computing market. Nothing threatened IBM. Then IBM introduced the PC, and although there were were a few competitors, IBM didn’t really care. PCs were small potatoes and IBM was making beau coup bucks with big iron.
Apple introduced the Macintosh. , showing the world how an intuitive computing interface should work.
Microsoft, opened up to everyone, allowing its inferior product to gain acceptance simply because it was everywhere.
IBM finally saw its mistake and started pushing OS/2 heavily, but eventually gave in and accepted defeat.
To sum up War 1: IBM missed its chance to capitalize on the PC market; Apple created a superior product, but due to lack of external licensing severely limited its market and Microsoft grew absolutely huge on the success of Windows and Office.
Meanwhile, Novell was trying really hard to show everyone that Netware was the superior NOS to Windows NT, only to be crushed by the Microsoft juggernaut.
This is exactly what is happening to RIM, Apple, Google, and Microsoft at present.
RIM bears an unfortunate similarity to IBM: It created the smartphone market and enjoyed many years of success. However they went lazy and stopped introducing new models.
Apple is in the same position as it was back then. The iPhone, Apple showed everyone how an intuitive smartphone should work, but only on Apple hardware with Apple-approved applications.
Google holds Microsoft’s , since it has released a product inferior to Apple’s iOS but Google has licensed Android all over the place, so it’s enjoying broad adoption.
Microsoft, of course, is filling Novell’s shoes. Windows Phone 7 is so lacking in inspiration, it will wander aimlessly for a few years before being refreshed with yet another incarnation that will do the same thing. (Frankly, that’s the weakest part of this comparison, since Novell actually had a compelling product. Novell just couldn’t — or some say, wouldn’t — sell it the way it should have been sold.)
The wireless war is similarly heated as was the PC war. If we follow the history following will be the results:
RIM will follow a fate to that of IBM and will be pushed back if no new innovation made.
Apple will continue to make a stable revenue.
Google like Microsoft will be the ruling company.
Apple and Steve Jobs have been here before. I hope they may learn from the past.
If nothing else, it’s clear that Jobs absolutely values quality over quantity and always has. He’d rather be a smaller part of the market and offer the best user experience than be the market leader.
On the other hand, RIM must know that there’s little aside from a miraculous and revolutionary product release that can stave off the inevitable.
Google is flying high right now.
And then there’s Microsoft, scratching its head must be wondering how did they end up being Novell in the smartphone war.
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