Originally Posted by AjitMD
If history is any guide, the companies with proprietary standards will take the bulk of the profits. In the PC wars it was Microsoft and Intel... the real gorillas. I think that HP and Dell are just box makers with limited proprietary technology. Their services business is a low margin. Their success depends on execution... that is what Mark V. Hurd was good at doing, and Michael Dell in his heyday. That is why HP bought Palm, but I think they will be a niche player since they do not have a value chain like iTunes, App store, etc.
Right now it is a fight between Apple with it relatively closed proprietary architecture versus Google with open proprietary architecture. Microsoft is yesterday's tech like the IBM mainframe... ditto for Nokia and RIMM... they are not going to go away, but unlikely to dominate.
I agree. I think it's interesting that Apple's resurgence was due to leveraging their unique closed and vertically integrated proprietary system and adapting it to the wide-open Internet standards (and, to a lesser degree, adopting PC hardware standards like USB, Intel, etc.). Apple's vertical integration still is and will remain Apple's differentiator. Motorola? Samsung? LG? They've become the new HP, Dell and Acer.
There is indeed a striking similarity between the PC wars (Intel/Microsoft vs. Apple/PowerPC) and the current mobile platform war but it's also quite different, which is what I find interesting. Now you've got traditional tech companies duking it out with new rivals from the consumer electronics industry who are becoming more technologically savvy. Still, as I pointed out in my earlier post, none of these hardware makers have any control over the software and, hence, the platform.
While the comparison between Apple vs. Microsoft during the PC era and Apple vs. Google in this mobile Internet era is valid, the dynamics of the competitive landscape are very different when we consider all the different players involved. Essentially, it is much more complex as we have to factor in not only the major players in the aforementioned traditional high-tech companies and humungous consumer electronics firms, but also the telecom giants and content providers (mainly the huge media companies) who are all looking to get a piece of the action.
No one in any of these industries wants another Microsoft. If it seems either Apple or Google is getting too powerful, all these other players will align themselves in a way to counter that growing dominance. Apple and Google have no choice but to pursue dominance just to counter each other and to remain relevant, but it will come down to what types of alliances each company musters up that will give them the edge.
Also, I wouldn't totally dismiss Microsoft just yet. They have a history of coming back and banging their heads against the wall until they get things right. They're still extremely profitable and it's not like the desktops of the enterprise are going to disappear. People still have to sit down and work - even at home. The backend players like IBM, HP, Oracle, SAP, Cisco, EMC, etc. will also want in on all of this new action and will continue to exert their influence to make sure they profit in this new converging market.
I have to say, though, that Apple seems best positioned and best equipped to compete against all of these behemoths - mainly because they have both the software platform/ecosystem and the hardware that people want to be able to look at and touch and feel with their flesh. And Apple understands this very well. For Apple, it'll be about maintaining a balance between attaining the critical mass to sustain their iOS ecosystem while being able to charge a premium for their unique differentiating factor of software/hardware integration.