Humans seem to take sides. It’s either us against them, or us against someone else, but always differing sides. Perhaps that need to choose a side goes back to The Garden of Eden when Eve chose to hang our with Satan and Adam chose to hang out with Eve vs. following the simple commandments God gave to humankind’s first pair.
Whatever it is, we see side-taking in technology, too. Mac vs. Windows. iPhone vs. Android. Sides are everywhere. Are you ready for some strange bedfellows?
Look at the technology leaders of our time. Can you tell which side Apple is on?
Think of Facebook, Google, and Amazon on one side. Apple and Microsoft on the other. Wait. What? Microsoft? Of course.
Apple and Microsoft have more similarities to each other than they do to Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
Here’s how it works. Facebook and Google are advertising business models. Despite ventures into hardware, both are about providing free software to users in exchange for culling their personal information which is used to sell even more advertising.
What about Amazon? The online retailer sells hardware, but, like free software, the hardware is used to track customers, cull information from them, then use that data to sell even more products.
Those companies and their business models contrast sharply with Apple and Microsoft who have at least as many similarities as differences. Apple sells hardware but supplies customers with software to use the hardware. Microsoft sells software but supplies customers with hardware to use the software. It’s not exactly the same, of course, but it is a similar approach.
Apple allows customers to use non-Apple software on Apple hardware. Microsoft allows their software to run on any major platform, but also allows customers to use non-Microsoft software and hardware.
Yes, Apple and Microsoft are strange bedfellows. They need each other. Yet, there is a symbiotic relationship with Google, Facebook, and to a degree, Amazon. Google needs platforms. It could prosper only with Android, yet it makes more money from Apple customers and iOS, and a huge chunk of both revenue and profit comes from Microsoft customers.
Facebook needs hardware platforms. Amazon needs all the platforms but sells other products to everyone. Unless they compete with Amazon’s hardware.
Strange bedfellows indeed.