Apple’s announcements yesterday about OS X 10.7 pricing (cheap), upgrading (easy), iOS 5, and iCloud storage, syncing, and media service can all be viewed as increasing ease of use, but from the perspective of Apple CEO Steve Jobs they perform an even more vital function — killing Microsoft.
Here is the money line from Jobs yesterday: “We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device – just like an iPad, an iPhone or an iPod Touch. We’re going to move the hub of your digital life to the cloud.”
Just like they used to say at Sun Microsystems, the network is the computer. Or we could go even further and say our data is the computer.
This redefines digital incumbency. The incumbent platform today is Windows because it is in Windows machines that nearly all of our data and our ability to use that data have been trapped. But the Apple announcement changes all that. Suddenly the competition isn’t about platforms at all, but about data, with that data being crunched on a variety of platforms through the use of cheap downloaded apps.
What this requires from Apple is a bold move that Microsoft would never make: Jobs is going to sacrifice the Macintosh in order to kill Windows. He isn’t beating Windows, he’s making Windows inconsequential.
Having been shown the way by Apple, I expect Google to shortly do the same thing, adding automated backup, synchronization and migration to Android and Chrome.
Both companies will be grabbing for data, claiming territory, and leaving Microsoft alone to defend a desktop that will soon cease to exist.
And what happens once all our data is in that iCloud, is there any easy way to get it back out? Nope. It’s in there forever and we are captive customers — trapped more completely than Microsoft ever imagined.
Apple and Google will compete like crazy for our data because once they have it we’ll be their customers forever.
This transition will take at most two hardware generations and we’re talking mobile generations, which means three years, total.
With no mobile market share to speak of and Windows 8 not due until 2013, Microsoft is likely to be too late to the party, with much of Redmond’s market cap transplanted eventually to Apple and Google.
Some will say this is unlikely because of Microsoft’s grip on enterprise sales, but consumers have been leading the IT market for the last decade and the mobile transition will only accelerate this trend.
The quicker Microsoft can turn itself into IBM the better for Redmond, because that appears to be their only chance.