Is Google the next Microsoft for Apple?

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Many, if not all of us remember the days of the early 90′s when the competition was fierce between the Macintosh computer and Windows. At first Apple led the way but, eventually Microsoft took the lead and would never look back. Bill Gates and his Microsoft team did it by making Windows inexpensive and open. They didn’t build the hardware and instead let any computer maker use their operating system. This resulted in the market having so many options of computers, all of which (expect Macs) ran on the Windows operating system. Apple on the other hand, had a closed system whereby only they used the Mac operating system on their own Apple built computers.

Fast forward to today and Apple is once again in the lead. Only this time it’s in the mobile device industry. Although they are actually growing their computer division once again, it is nowhere near the size of Microsoft. However, they are the industry leader in both smartphones with the iPhone and in tablets with the iPad. Microsoft is not a serious contender in this market right now, but it looks like a different tech company has learned from Microsoft’s past success and is trying to beat Apple in the mobile space like Microsoft beat them in the computer space roughly 20 years ago.

That company is Google. Google has made their mobile operating system, Android, open for any smartphone and tablet maker to use. They aren’t focusing on making hardware. This is exactly what Microsoft did with computers. Apple makes both the hardware and the software and their operating system, iOS only runs on their hardware. This is exactly how they operated in the 80′s and 90′s. The result is that already there are more people with Android based smartphones than those with iPhones, even though the iPhone is still considered the leader in the category. If this trend sticks then the same will soon occur with tablets.

If history is any indication and so far it seems to be, Google’s open strategy will eventually overtake Apple’s closed, all or nothing approach. Personally, I like the iPhone and I would be happy to see them win in the end. However, it seems less likely every week. If however, Apple were to open up their platform to other hardware makers then that can change everything. I don’t know if they ever would, but they should think about it or risk losing round 2 to Google like they lost round 1 to Microsoft.