Apple Closes The Loop On the Competition

Feature Comparison Chart
  Apple Microsoft Blackberry Nokia Adobe
Rich Internet Applications Dashboard and iPhone Apps Silverlight 2.0 None None Flex/Media Player/Flash Player
Push-sync to Mobile MobileMe/Microsoft Exchange (iPhone only) ActiveSync/Microsoft Exchange (Windows only) For email For email only None
Push-sync to Computer (Corporate) Entourage (Mac only) Microsoft Exchange None None None
Push-sync to Computer (Consumer) MobileMe (Mac and Windows None None None None
Gaming None xBox 360 None nGage II None
Television Apple TV xBox 360 (?) None None Media Player (?)

Just as with a master go player, whose moves seemingly look random in the beginning, Apple’s moves in the mobile and desktop space are beginning to come together.

While the iPhone3G was expected, the real aggressive play came with MobileMe, Apple’s completely revamped version of it’s .Mac subscription service.

With Apple’s announcement of the new iPhone3G and MobileMe web-based push-sync solution, Apple further closed the loop on the competition with a complete soup-to-nuts offering for consumers, and now has a strong entry into the corporate market. By licensing Microsoft Exchange to Apple, the Redmond giant gave Apple an entry path into corporations for the iPhone3G at the expense of Blackberry, and the future of its own Windows Mobile platform.

How will future versions of Windows Mobile differentiate themselves in the corporate marketplace, traditionally Microsoft’s stronghold?

Alvin Foo has excellent coverage of the iPhone3G on his blog, and now also provides a robust development environment for mobile developers.

The feature comparison chart above gives some feel for how things are shaping up for Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Nokia and Adobe. The immediate pressure is on Blackberry, then pressure will shift to Nokia which has a very wide product line, and is the largest seller of mobile handsets in the world.

Apple and Nokia have two different visions of the future: Apple wants to sync multiple devices including computers and mobile phones. Nokia needs to offer single computing platforms in multiple markets which provide excellent computing capabilities with voice capability as their only computer of choice, making it unnecessary to have multiple computers.

Can Nokia pull it off? Unfortunately Nokia is still too married to the voice phone capabilities of its phones, and has not been able to come up with a single data-centric vision of the future for the OS and applications.

Microsoft’s vision of the future is the same as Apple’s: multiple devices with push-sync across platforms. The trouble is that Microsoft cannot have solutions as elegant as Apple’s. The company is reliant on its strong corporate presence to continue to get revenue, but now Apple has a backdoor entry into that marketplace with its licensing of Microsoft Exchange for the iPhone3G. The next step is for developers to come up with iPhone versions of corporate apps for the iPhone. This will give IT departments an opportunity to evaluate the stability and security of OS X.

Microsoft’s matrix management and multiple business units and product lines make it difficult, if not impossible, to come up with single elegant solutions for both corporate and consumer markets. If Microsoft continues to launch operating systems like Vista on a much slower launch schedule than Apple, their position in the marketplace will continue to erode.

In order to pull off a plan as aggressive as Apple’s, you need a strong division management with limited product lines, reporting directly to The Man, Steve Jobs, who has the vision, and gets everybody in line to execute.

Apple’s loop continues to close…

2 Responses to “Apple Closes The Loop On the Competition”

  1. Dan Shupp says:

    You seem to write RIM off pretty quickly. Apple still has a long road to climb before it can supplant the heavily optimized blackberry.