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Friday, August 26, 2005

The Peaked Google, Embattled Microsoft & Disruptive Apple

Cringley thinks that with more than $2.5 billion in cash already on-hand, Google may not have any plans at all for that extra $4 billion. The company may be raising the money as a cheap insurance policy against some later day when Wall Street might not be so enamored of the giant search company. Google may not go after big acquisitions but will roll-out incremental products at a blinding pace. PayPal co-founder Max Levchin explains that rapid development is an important key to market dominance. That pace of technical development, which probably isn't sustainable for long at any company, isn't possible at all at more mature companies like AOL, Yahoo, and especially Microsoft. Google’s plans are not clear – including the rumoured dark fiber, data center etc. Google needs ever more bandwidth, sure, so dark fiber makes sense to buy when it is probably as cheap as it is ever going to get. It will take the company another five years just to mature the businesses they already have.
Bob thinks that Microsoft's clearest threat still comes from Apple. Apple already super-dominates the music player market where Microsoft doesn't even really exist. But the real jewel is one Microsoft has to lose, not gain - the PC platform, itself. Microsoft is woefully late with its next Windows upgrade, while Apple is far ahead with even the current version of OS X. Apple is moving to Intel processors and hackers have already shown that OS X can run fine on non-Apple hardware. But Apple doesn't want to give up its profitable hardware business to compete head-to-head with Microsoft. And remember, Apple totally dominates the portable music player market and will probably sell 25 million iPods or more this year. Every one of those iPods is a bootable drive. What if Apple introduces OS 10.5, its next super-duper operating system release, and at the same time starts loading FOR FREE the current operating system version - OS 10.4 - on every new iPod in a version that runs on generic Intel boxes? What if they also make 10.4 a free download through the iTunes Music Store? It wouldn't kill Microsoft, but it would hurt the company, both emotionally and materially. And it wouldn't hurt Apple at all. Apple hardware sales would be driven by OS 10.5 and all giving away 10.4 would do is help sell more iPods and attract more customers to Apple's store. Somehow I feel that Cringley is too optimistic on Apple( just as large companies can not rapidly roll out- companies of the size of Apple may not be able to take radical steps like what Bob is speculating – but am totally convinced about Microsoft’s vulnerability in the emerging world. Anycase Bob’s columns are always a great pleasure to read.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"