I think what we're watching here is the unfolding of two different business models. MSFT, led by Ballmer, who has all the attributes of an old time "salesman" ... a pitchman, for lack of a better name, who wants to, as most salesman dream of doing, sell something to everyone, usually without giving much thought to the bottom line or to tomorrow's "sales". The unfortunate thing is, that the windows customer base is so large .... it generates profits almost automatically and allows that model to happen and for management to become more easily satisfied, for now at least. By the time management wakes up and starts to choose their focus points more clearly, it may be difficult to change.
Apple, otoh, has a plan in place that is slowly revealing itself to us, one step at a time. The amount of focus on Apple's part is becoming clearer everyday and is amazing to see.
As much as I love to see more product being introduced by my favorite company, Apple, I find it even more interesting to watch both business plans unfold.
I agree. As far as Apple goes SJ has stated many times that Apple is not motivated by numbers or money. Sure, high sales and high profits are great and tend to validate the design and engineering efforts but the driving force is that it has to be fun. Unless they can pursue goals they are truly passionate about - great hardware design, great user experience etc - it just isn't worth the effort. Some cynics think that's all rubbish but I believe it is at the core of the company and why other companies find it impossible to be 'as great'. The reason, for instance, that Apple continuously tops the customer satisfaction ( http://news.cnet.com/8301-31021_3-20...ag=mncol;title ) is that they genuinely care. Not just to increase the bottom line but to improve the user experience. And that is why Apple will not, for now, venture into all these areas that they are not truly passionate about.
Apple definitely has a long term plan. But every company has that. Plans that are continuously revised and change from time to time. The difference is that Apple has a deep understanding of what its core values are and are single mindedly driven by these. They are also guided by a very sound business model, of course but it is only because of my previous point that that model works at all.