Put yourself in Microsoft’s shoes. You hold a dominate share of the PC market, but that market is no longer growing. In fact, it’s shrinking. You have an army of employees working their ass off on an operating system that has stood the test of time, Windows, only to see it being installed on machines that look like a poor imitation of Apple’s MacBook Air. Talking about Apple, they introduced a tablet device a few years ago that has become a phenomenal success. So much so that people are preferring to spend more of their time “computing” with that 9.7 inch piece of glass than whatever laptop they have sitting on a desk somewhere collecting dust. According to The New York Times, Microsoft had to introduce Surface in order to remain competitive. Several of the company’s top executives, including Steven Sinofsky, the head of the Windows Division, have lost “faith” in hardware makers to innovate and lead.
Now put yourself in the shoes of ASUS, HP, or Lenovo. You pay Intel an obscene amount of money for chips. You pay Microsoft an obscene amount of money for bits. And then you’re tasked with eking out some low single digit margins that you then have to blow on marketing so that consumers think your product is better than everyone else’s. You can’t switch to Linux, because people don’t want that. You can’t switch to ARM, because Android isn’t going to solve your problems, and Windows RT just intensifies your relationship with Microsoft. So what do you do?
Nothing. You don’t have any options.
It’s increasingly starting to look like the choice that Apple made to make not just their own software, but also their own hardware, is the way of the future. That might upset some people who want to see modularity thrive, and for there to be a highly competitive ecosystem, but if that model keeps on delivering boring products then what’s the point?