iPod, iPhone, and iPad: why Apple is so much more successful than Google and Microsoft

Apple vs Google vs Microsoft following iPod, iPhone, iPad

Yeah, crediting the iPod, iPhone, and iPad for why Apple is so much more successful than Google or Microsoft is a loaded headline, or would be if Mark Sigal from O'Reilly didn't point it out in so succinct a fashion:

The following inconvenient facts must be an affront to the horizontal, commoditized, open, market share zealots. Apple has launched three major new product lines since 2001: the iPod (October, 2001); the iPhone (July, 2007); and the iPad (April, 2010).

The company's stock is up 3,000 percent since the launch of iPod, 125 percent since the launch of iPhone, and 20 percent since the launch of iPad.

In that same time period, the major devotees of the loosely coupled model -- Microsoft, Google, Intel and Dell -- have been, at best, outpaced by Apple 6X (in the case of Google dating back to the launch of iPod) and at worst, either been wiped out (in the case of Dell) or treaded water (in the cases of Microsoft and Intel) in every comparison period.

ChangeWave's Paul Carton says consumer interest in Android is rising at the expense of iPhone, but at the same time Horace Dediu from asymco points out that counting non-Google approved Android devices, and Android devices like Verizon's Fascinate where Google is torn out, Google actually makes far more money from iPhone where they're the default search engine, map provider, etc.

Now, just like Stephan Colbert isn't truthful but "truthy", and dime store popsicles aren't chocolate but "chocolatey", Google isn't really open but "openy", and neither is Microsoft, but it doesshow that just who won -- or will win -- what PC or smartphone war against Apple depends entirely on how you frame the terms of victory.

[Daring Fireball]

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

iPhone live 119: I want my Apple TV

Next up →

Apple TV (2010) Jailbreak via SHAtter shown off

Reader comments

iPod, iPhone, and iPad: why Apple is so much more successful than Google and Microsoft


Where is RIM in all this ? I would count them among the big boys ( they are market leader in smartphones after all) and their new products look very very promising (PlayBook)

Apple is more successful because they are at the forefront of all their endeavors. Google and Microsoft make their software for others to use, it's also the problem and why they we see no success untill they take the helm and make something happen.

These are only comparisons on the Stock Price, to be honest it would be better if Apples stock price was lower, from an investment point of view they are well over priced and its all hype. Google has much better capital growth potential IMHO.
Google and Microsoft continue to rake in money hand over fist and while I'm not saying that Apple isn't doing this as well their PE ratio is getting smashed because of the inflated stock price.

I don't understand why a few years of success makes a company more successful than another who has had more success and is larger in size and wealth.Sure Apple may be big now but everything has an end.Somethings are hot for a minute and the next they're not.I think Apple is going to fast...putting too much out too quick.They're flooding the market.If I'm wrong then I'm wrong as this is just my opinion.I like both Microsoft and Apple.

@Eric, what r u brain dead?! The iPhone complete revolutionalized the smart phone industry. And even now every single phone company is struggling to imitate. Lastly, the iPad is the first of it's kind and at present the only one of its kind.

As long as you are talking about framing, you might want to mention Apple's "victory" is framed not just by stock price, but entirely by percentage change in stock prices. Apple has surely had a successful decade, but this measurement grossly magnifies their success and minimizes that of their initially larger competitors.

Apple invented the ready-made personal computer market. They re-invented it with the Mac. They revolutionised the music industry with the iPod +iTunes combination (you can't refer to iPod without iTunes). They revolutionised the cell phone industry with the iPhone.
And now they've revolutionised the personal computer market again with the iPad. The difference is that this time other manufacturers have finally caught on and are rushing in copycats faster, having realised Apple are in fact very good innovators of excellent new stuff. This is good for the consumer, more choice.
In all of this the end user was central.
Microsoft on the other hand created a self perpetuating technical ecosystem adopted by IT departments to self perpetuate their jobs... In this world, the end user is barely given lip service - unless of course you're a technically oriented person that likes to mess about under the hood. This is why MS won the Corporate desktop war and are now floundering in other areas. By all accounts Vista was much loathed, corporates never took it to heart, and Windows 7 is supposed to be the next big thing. But most corporates are desperately hanging onto XP, the zenith of MS's OS.
Referencing Apple's shares - you can make money from them, by buying and selling them. There is no law that says a company has to pay dividends. The cash pile Apple are sitting is a fantastic competitive weapon, enabling them to continue to above-average fund R&D.

Let's be honest, Apple is, an is always likely to be a better company than Microsoft. With the iPhone and macs they don't stand a chance.

Apple is successful because they realized what the consumer wanted: a product that gave you all the functionality you needed without the excess maintenance/technical proficiency needed to operate it.
Look at Windows for example. I'm not trying to troll on Windows here, but most consumers, besides the technically proficient, really don't care for the hundreds of customization/optimizations options. All they care about is that their gadgets, devices, etc., just work. I'm not just referring to those of us who grew up with technology, I'm talking about the older folks who didn't grow up with technology by their side.

Quantum said it first and I'll say it again: Microsoft is a software company. Like Intel, they supply programs for others to use and write into whichever company's hardware. Apple is both a hardware and software company. The fact that Microsoft has grown to be bigger than Apple is an embarrassment to Apple since they're below a company that has little control over the end-user experience, whereas Apple has complete control over everything related to their products. You want a fair comparison between Microsoft and Apple? Then look at iTunes on the PC and see how bulky/slow it is. That's Apple's software on something they have little control over. Microsoft is looking to change this problem with WP7, which if succeeds would revolutionize the industry, where the software companies, not the hardware companies, determine the user experience.
I'm not hating on Apple. Apple's growth has been staggering the last 10 years, especially from where they were pre-21st century. Likewise, Microsoft's growth was also staggering considering they're only a software company. Apple handed MS the desktop market on a silver platter and likewise, MS handed Apple the smartphone market on a silver platter. The tablet market is up for debate since MS has a different view and design on what a tablet should be in regards to Steve's vision of the tablet.

@ Neil
I wouldn"t consider the iPad to be a personal computer. It's something entirely new and, while revolutionary, different. It can't be compared directly to a personal conputer. Now, when other pad computer start hitting the market, we'll see where things go. Personally, I'm waiting for the HP ta let tunning windows 7. THAT may recolutionize both pad computers and PC's, but the verdict is still out.

@Quantum - I agree.
@Buffdaddydeluxe - Are you joking? The iPad is not the first and only one of it's kind. Tablet's PCs have been around long before the iPad, so it's not the first in the Tablet PC department, but it's the first to be successful. Also, the iPad is an iPod Touch only bigger, it's the iPod Touch for people with fat hands.
Apple is setting the standards again like how they did in the 80s for computers, which is a good thing. They better hope that history doesn't repeat itself where their competitors surpass them, like in the 90s where no one used Apple products and Windows reigned supreme over the computer world.

I'm not a real fan of either Microsoft, Apple, or Google; but here are a couple of my observations.
Apple is brilliant about innovating a new product for consumers. It worked with the original Mac, iPod, iPhone, and now iPad. The problem is that Apple has a huge tendency to sit on its products and, although making a killing on the new market, lets competitors catch up. This was evident with the Mac in the 80s and 90s, and I believe that Apple showed that tendency again with the iPhone.
The problem for Apple is also their greatest advantage. They control the entire experience. Hardware, software, apps, etc. This means that the User Experience is generally great. But it comes at a price. No one company can single-handedly control a market. In the 80s, Apple attempted to take on all other computer makers with the Mac. This was successful until someone (Microsoft) united all the existing computer makers against Apple.
Again with the iPhone, Apple attempted to take over an already entrenched market. Large phone manufacturers like HTC, Motorola, LG, and Samsung couldn't compete with their own proprietary OS or crappy WM6.X, so Apple was able to make a killing. But again somebody (Google Android in this case) has been able to unite the existing phone makers against Apple. Android may be "Openy" as Rene calls it, but it is in most ways comparable to iOS.
The difference then is that with Android, users have much more choice. Users can choose Carriers, Form factors, Price points, etc because there is a huge variety. A single device (the Mac in the 80s, and the iPhone now) will be initially very revolutionary and successful because it is completely unique. But as competitors gain comparable abilities, they are able to out-compete Apple by contributing innovations from many companies.

First, you managed to spell my name wrong with it printed out for you...
Second, the iPhone wasn't "revolutionary" it was actually the next progressive step. Apple was first to market with that step and used their marketing genius to promote it as "revolutionary" when if you actually look at product history it's simply the next logical step, basically following making a cell attachment for, Compaq's iPaq touchscreen handheld.
The iPad is not the "first of its kind". PC tablets, internet tablets, reader tablets have all existed well before the iPad. The iPad was simply the next logical step of taking all the components being developed for smartphones and shoving them into a tablet form factor.

Google got a boatload of money .. Apple does as well .. I don't see how Apple is so much more successful..
Google doesn't sell phones.. tablets or pc's .. they have an OS that they don't even sell ... So why are we comparing the 2..
Any comparison between Google and apple should be about software nto about hardware... and Android is taking over...

@QUANTUM. and @TK for agreeing,
There is something seriously incorrect with Quantum's post.
i quote "Google and Microsoft make their software for others to use, it’s also the problem and why they (will) see no success untill they take the helm and make something happen."
..." will see no success until..."
I know microsoft didn't send you an email or text telling you how successful they are, but they are wildly successful. Your awareness notwithstanding.
I think your confusing that when microsoft licensed products are compared to Apple, they offer a lower quality user experience and lower stability, to mean the same thing as success. You'd be mistaken.
Microsoft and Apple enjoyed blockbuster revenues last quater to the tune of net profits of $3.25 Bil and $4.5 Bil. I let you figure out whose is whose, frankly i dont care. I'd take either as a heathly sign of success. Apple is untouchable at its own game right now, even by companies like Microsoft and Google. The fact that Apple excells at its own game doesn't mean other companies don't have their own little pots of gold though.
PS: The problem you described is actually quite the opposite. It is because Microsoft is primarily a software and enterprise company that they are wildly successful. Apple excelling at it's own game, doesn't mean Microsoft doesn't excell at its. Microsoft enjoys massive margins, larger than beloved Apple. Unfortunately, all the margins in the world havn't enabled Microsoft to best Apple at it's own game. So for you and I, who'd rather have a better end user experience, we're left to vote with our wallets. Me, I cant afford a MacBook Pro yet, so my last purchase went to microsoft.

I dont consider ipad as apersonal computer any way look how it hits the world of business because its still new, wowww

I believe that Apple simply had this brilliant idea first. It perfected the idea of the smartphone and touchscreens. Whoever does something first that is unique and works better thab other branded devices is bound to have a blasting success.
The same applies back in the older days were microsoft had more "revolutionary" ideas than Apple with all the Windows versions.
Android on the other hand does a pretty good job but it wilm never be an iDevice.
The company i give credit to is RIM since they do as well have their unique smartphone look that does work effectively. The Playbook all-touch release is appauling since even RIM is copying the iPad.
Leading company in both ideas and creation is Apple. The rest still follow.

"The Playbook all-touch release is appauling since even RIM is copying the iPad."
RIM's new OS model seems to copy more from webOS then it does iOS, which is good because I actually have found the webOS interface to be much less frustrating to work with than the iOS interface.
If you meant hardware-wise, not really. The tablet form factor of the iPad has been around, it just hadn't had smartphone components jammed into it yet.