Keeping up with the times was never easy and that is certainly the case when it comes to technology. For companies in the business fortunes come and go, some become immensely rich and powerful and dominates the market only to find that they have missed a crucial change in user demands and find themselves on the backfoot.
Twenty years ago Microsoft faced anti-trust violation in the USA and the US government threatened them with
breaking up the company unless the agreed to play nicer in the market which they totally dominated at that point with a choke hold on the PC computer market.
They agreed but continued by and large to be the centre of the universe as far as technology went, and they created a trillion dollar company, another first, and then it happened – the internet came along.
Like a tidal wave it swept over the industry and created a market shift and whilst Microsoft is still making lots of money, their loss of power in the market has been significant, and their shares are half the value of what they were in 2000.
With the Windows operating system no longer reigning supreme the once all encompassing system has gone from being almost a monopoly to become little more than a device driver. Because the internet based cloud computing and the tablets and smartphones and other devices now use different operating systems, like Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, it has become almost irrelevant what operating system you use as long as it can run some apps.
Some of the other majors in the PC desktop game like Dell, HP, Intel have also struggled to come to grips with the internet-driven world we now have, so going from selling 200 million units a year in the 20 years before 2005 when the smartphones and a little later the tablets came along, these new devices have totally dwarfed the market for PCs.
The result has been that from having 70% of operating system market with Windows,even up to 3 years ago, Windows’ share globally has now been cut to about 30%,and Apple and Google with iOS and Android has taken over. Surprisingly, Android is now bigger than Windows.
With the choices of computing devices the preference is increasingly towards the tablets and smartphones, not that it means the end of the PC, after all the PC if the most cost-effective and convenient way to do what a user wants to do, but it will be the choice of the office where productivity counts. For so many user their personal needs e.g. emailing, social media, internet and the odd photo can be met by the tablet and smartphone.
Microsoft may have had to take some tough lessons, but they’ll survive and are still profitable with the help of their Office suite of programmes still widely used in commerce. The outlook for the PC however is a downward trend for non-specialised use and we are sure to see an even greater change in devices in the coming years.
Actually, quite exciting.