It’s the age-old argument: Microsoft and Apple. Although this time, instead of the classic “Who’s better?”, the question is now, “Who will dominate 2017?”
Before you scoff at this question…
…consider a few things.
Apple suffered quite a bit in 2016. The company saw sales drag. Its profit was less than it was the previous year—a first for the company in fifteen years, and iPhone sales were at their slowest-ever rate in the last three months of 2015.
It wasn’t for lack of effort. In the last couple years, Apple has released several new products, like the Apple Watch, a new Macbook Pro, a new iPod Pro, and the iPhone 7.
The iPhone 7 let out a collective “meh” among its buyers. It didn’t have any particularly interesting new features, and there was the irritating absence of a headphone jack.
Similar complaints were made about the new MacBook Pros, which replaced familiar ports with USB-C ports—meaning consumers will need to purchase adapters. The new Touch Bar (a small touchscreen that replaces the traditional keys on the keyboard) also frustrated many buyers, who claimed it to be “gimmicky”, “dispensable”, and “inconvenient”. The Wall Street Journal criticized the Touch Bar, saying, “You can get used to the spring of the keys on the new flat keyboard. You also get used to sleeping on a rock when camping.”
Not only was the Touch Bar met with overwhelming negativity; it also adds $300 to the new Macbook Pro’s price. Apple products have never been cheap, but with the Macbook Pro, due to all these unpopular features and also the lack of much battery power, consumers are finding the model to be overpriced and underpowered.
2016 did see the release of Apple’s AirPods—a set of wireless headphones, which, to their credit, were an entirely new product. However, the Airpods suffered multiple delays upon release, and were met with mixed reviews.
Many are wondering if Apple is past its best with the loss of Steve Jobs. His successor, Tim Cook, is a masterful operator, but less of a creative force. Is Apple going through a mere rough patch, or is this the beginning of a steady decline?
Microsoft, Not Too Shabby…Almost
Microsoft arguably ruled the 1990s. Everyone had a Windows 95 PC. It was praised for its wealth of software. It was familiar, and it did the job.
But the early 2000s saw Apple blow up the industry to an entire new generation with the introduction of iMacs, iPods, and of course, the iPhone. Apple products were cutting-edge and trendy as could be—an idea that Apple very much milked. While many fans of Microsoft remained loyal and maintained their points, to many, the company seemed like a dinosaur and was pushed a bit into the shadows.
However, despite this, Microsoft never fell too far from grace. It quietly continued improving, and even had a few surprises of its own.
2016 saw the biggest resurgence of Microsoft in years, with the launching of Windows 10 taking place in mid-2015. Users loved the new OS touch screens, virtual assistant Cortana, and window management. Indeed, Windows 10 garnered much acclaim as a return to form, with consumers calling it “fresh and familiar”.
Microsoft’s features for Windows 10 also feature re-designed versions of core apps like Mail, Calendar, Maps, and the Windows Store. The most interesting aspect here is that these apps are universal, meaning they are the same apps that run on Windows 10 phones.
Moreover, Microsoft grabbed a good marketing spin with Windows 10, framing the OS as “Windows as a Service”—meaning it’s never fully done, and it’s constantly evolving. This is attractive to customers, and it doesn’t hurt that Windows 10 proves that Microsoft’s dream of delivering a single OS that can work across computers, tablets, and phones might actually come true.
And while Apple was charging its customers extra for adapters for its unnecessary upgrades (like the headphones jack and the USB-C ports), Microsoft surprised everyone by announcing that they would be giving Windows 10 away for free—proving that the company is more interested in getting consumers to use Windows than making them pay for it.
The Microsoft Surface Book also gained positive reviews, the biggest one coming from Business Insider.
However, the main issue that most people continue to have with Microsoft (besides the general “Apple is cooler” notion) is the privacy concerns.
This has been one of Microsoft’s biggest controversies. By default, Windows 10 allows itself to pass your data to Microsoft’s servers, use your bandwidth for Microsoft’s own purposes, and profile your Windows usage. Despite the success Microsoft has seen in the last couple of years, this is a serious issue that users have real qualms with.
“Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary…Rather than residing as a static software program on your device, key components of Windows are cloud-based.
…In order to provide this computing experience, we collect data about you, your device, and the way you use Windows.”
Electronic Frontier Foundation employee Amul Kalia tells Microsoft that they should “come clean” with their user community. “Windows 10 sends an unprecedented amount of usage data back to Microsoft,” says Kalia, explaining that enabling virtual assistant Cortana increases the amount of data sent to Microsoft.
This is particularly worrisome, and if Microsoft doesn’t do something to fix this issue, many users will be too concerned to continue using their OS.
The Bottom Line:
So which mega company do most people believe will win out over 2017? It’s hard to determine. Here are some bottom-line pros and cons:
Apple Pros: They have the iPhone, as well as an outstanding track record with getting consumers extremely excited.
Apple Cons: Despite the unveiling of many innovative and thrilling surprises in the past, there now seems to be a serious lack of creative force behind Apple. The company’s recent releases have been called “boring for its uninspiring product launches in recent years.”
Microsoft Pros: They’ve never been bad; they’ve simply not had as much in-your-face relevance as Apple in past years. Despite the fact that Microsoft may not have the same charisma as Apple, they have steadily solid products.
Microsoft Cons: Serious privacy issues that are widely known, as well as a general sense of the company being second to Apple with millennials.
Apple supporters and Microsoft supporters are equally passionate, and both companies have seen better and worse moments in their time as industry leaders.
While Apple did have a rough year, most reviewers agree that their design and style is still second-to-none. Some Apple fans see 2016 not as a failure, but simply as the year that Apple took to regather itself—or, as others believe, the year they took to set up a surprise for everyone. June 2017 will be the 10th anniversary of the very first iPhone, and some theorize that Apple released the less-than-amazing iPhone 7 in order to make a bigger impact with the upcoming anniversary model. Others who are on board with this “Apple comeback” theory also point out that Apple may be also updating its Mac desktop computers in 2017—the first time they would be doing so in years. There could be other Apple products getting excited buzz in 2017, including the smart glasses that always seem to be hovering on the horizon of Apple rumors. If this is true, then Apple will come roaring back into the consumer spotlight.
But the glowing contender, Microsoft, could have a huge advantage over Apple if the company decides to do something about their privacy situation. It may very well be this “slow and steady wins the race” mentality that brings Microsoft back to the highest pedestal.
At Contentverse, we are your experts when it comes to company management solutions. Let us help answer your questions today!