A few years ago I blogged that I thought Apple had peaked. I no longer feel that way. The main reason I’ve changed my mind is that Steve Jobs is no longer at the company. Yes, I know everyone who never worked for him thinks Steve Jobs was some kind of god (and all the sycophant know he was a god); but Job’s Achilles heel was always B2B. Strangely enough, for a man who created large businesses he didn’t get large companies and especially never got what drives IT organizations. More than that, he didn’t like doing what’s needed to sell into big business. Now with Jobs is gone, Apple can move their products into the corporate environment. A perfect example of what never would have happened if Jobs was alive is the deal Apple now has with IBM.
Interestingly enough it’s just not Jobs being gone that has created this opportunity for Apple but it’s also a weak Microsoft letting this happen. Which highlights my thinking, that is, Microsoft’s earnings do not yet show how much trouble they’re in. Microsoft is turning into Yahoo – a past leader who lost touch with customers and technology and now is just hanging on. Microsoft’s products are old and weak. They’ve missed major trends, producing second rate solutions as a response e.g. search engines, smartphones, tablets, online office apps, cloud services, development environments … Their development organization is so internal focused that they forgot there are actually customers out there; resulting in the creation of subpar products that technologists hate using and are confusing for end users. While Microsoft misses out on all the latest technology trends Google and Apple are poised to eat their lunch.
A big indicator of what’s going to be hot in IT organizations in five years are the skills Silicon Valley companies are looking for in engineers today. Ten to fifteen years ago sixty percent of Silicon Valley companies were looking for engineers who knew .net and other Microsoft centric skills. Today less than 1% of engineering jobs in the valley are for Microsoft centric skills. The top engineers are being drafted into solving big data issues – centered on technologies like Hadoop – a Google/Facebook developed open source technology. Where the less math centric programmers are being hired to develop web apps, using Google and Apple developed open source technology.
Based on this, I see Apple and Google continuing to rise at the expense of Microsoft. The big question is, can Microsoft’s new chairman change their course and turn Microsoft around.