"Killer instincts" at Microsoft, Apple

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Very few people would doubt that Microsoft has a "killer instinct" as a corporate entity. This isn't unusual, in fact, most successful corporations have it. Wall Street executives won't last a single day without it. You walk out of business school with an MBA with "killer instinct" imprinted on your psyche. If you don't have it, you wind up taking a job that requires you to wear a paper hat. Some contrasting blog entries at ZDNet took a look at Microsoft's killer instinct this week, with blogger Jason Perlow's thoughtful piece on "Why Microsoft's Killer Instinct Must Return." Perlow's entry was quickly answered by David Morgenstern on his Apple Core blog.

First of all, I don't think that Microsoft has lost its killer instinct. Not even for a moment. Second, Microsoft has always pointed its battle axe at Apple, but judging from the responses out there, it seems a lot of people have the mistaken idea that Microsoft is the aggressor and Apple is the underdog. In fact, Apple has a killer instinct of their own. The nice guy/cool image is only a product of their very capable marketing department. I don't fault Apple for having a killer instinct, they would never have gotten as far as they did without it. But let's not make the mistake of saying they don't have one.

Jason talks about Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit, suggesting that for Redmond to operate such a unit may not be a good idea, even suggesting that Microsoft "pull the plug" on the unit. At first glance, from a purely business and competitive standpoint, this may seem to make sense. Why support the competition's product? But it's strategic on Microsoft's part. It's never a bad idea to have a finger or two in the competition's pie. Besides, the unit makes money.

Morgenstern gives Apple's tiny market share a little too much credit, though, suggesting that if Microsoft were to put the kibosh on the Mac Business Unit, the end result would be that end users would discover "that they really don't need to be running Windows or any Microsoft platform product." Not bloody likely, David. The majority of Windows users couldn't care less about the Mac, and have no intention of switching. Why? The main reason is price. Mac just costs too much, it's that simple, and Windows is "good enough" for most of us. Morgenstern's article did point out that Mac's market share has grown to 9.93 percent (with Windows at 88.26 percent), but with budget cuts, recession, and more consumers looking to save a buck wherever they can, I'd wager that these figures are going to move slightly back in Microsoft's favor by the end of the year. If Apple wants to gain market share, it knows what it would have to do--and that is to allow third parties to manufacture cheap Mac clones. That's not likely to ever happen.

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