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Apple and Google are Currently Kings, but is Microsoft About to Take Over the Kingdom?

In the beginning, there was Microsoft, blazing a trail into the world of personal computing. But soon Apple entered the fray, and with an insular operating system and emphasis on style, Macs were suddenly making Microsoft’s market share dwindle. When Google joined the race, things got even more muddled.

The Rebirth of Microsoft Infographic

Apple and Google are Currently Kings, but is Microsoft About to Take Over the Kingdom?

Now Microsoft’s annual revenue hovers around $110 billion, and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) around $120B. Apple, meanwhile, has revenue exceeding $250 billion a year. Thanks to highly sought-after iPhones, plus iPads and more, Apple is king.

But revenue alone doesn’t tell the whole story, nor does it capture the turn around that is taking place at Microsoft.  Under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella, and with collaboration and acquisition their modus operandi, Microsoft may one day soon snatch back that crown.

“[Nadella] made a pronouncement on day one — the world is about cloud first, mobile first… He never mentioned Windows one time…. What he was telling the world was we at Microsoft have to be ready to embrace the cloud, and we at Microsoft have to be more about our technology running on all platforms.” – Microsoft Chairman John Thompson

A Brief History of the Battle

The battle for dominance between these tech giants has spanned decades, with 1997 the turning point in Microsoft’s time on the throne. It was then that Apple’s brilliant branding campaign began to make their tech products “must haves”. Though Microsoft’s revenue and market penetration in the world of corporate PCs remained high, Apple’s push into the portable, personal computing devices redefined the boundaries of the kingdom.

Google didn’t enter the race until 2011, with the introduction of the Chromebook. But they did give rise to the Android operating system and a multitude of applications. Adsense, Adwords, the Google search engine, and even the Chrome browser are all fruits of Google’s labors. They’re also examples of how Google took a page out of Apple’s book and reshaped the market so they could get a bigger share.

In terms of simple numbers, Apple’s position in the space is apparent. As of this writing, here are the “big three” companies’ market capitalization:

  • Apple – $1.06 trillion
  • Microsoft – $868.12 billion
  • Google – $ 821.25 billion

But, as always, there’s more to this story than just the current market cap.

A Microsoft Kingdom
Google and Apple are Currently Kings But Will Microsoft Take Over the Kingdom

Different Strategies, Different Avenues of Growth

For Google, it was all about making the Chromebook less expensive yet very functional. Sure, there are snags when it comes to Android apps, and sometimes image quality on certain devices may be lacking. But it’s hard to argue against their path to success when their company name is now part of the lexicon as a verb that is synonymous with “search”.

For Apple, the strategy involved forging ahead into the world of phones. Launched in 2007, the iPhone quickly became one of the most sought-after computing devices ever. By 2010, the iPhone has accounted for more than half of Apple’s revenues. Since then, it has continued to represent between 55 and 70 percent of Apple’s earnings.

The iPhone isn’t the only reason Apple has enjoyed success. In contrast to Microsoft, Apple chose to create devices that were stylish and sleek. Sure, their products also come with a premium price tag.  But given the almost-nonexistent need for virus protection, and less repair and maintenance, Apple products have consistently enjoyed strong consumer support.

Microsoft’s Nadella Strikes Back

Though Windows 10 helped secure stability in the PC market, it was not enough. So Nadella began pursuing cloud computing services through its cloud-based platform, Azure. Azure now ranks second in this $15.6 billion industry — just behind Amazon Web Services. In addition, Nadella also advanced its software subscriptions, including that of Microsoft Office 365.

In developing its various Windows OS products, Microsoft has worked with numerous PC makers to ensure access to their products. Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo are just some of the companies with which Microsoft interacts with selling its offerings. In addition, Microsoft has decided to work with Samsung to develop additional products in the future. Nadella’s new strategy is for Microsoft to be more open and collaborative, thus allowing greater opportunities for diversification and price reduction.

Acquiring LinkedIn and GitHub has also helped expand Microsoft’s reach.

In terms of quantifying Microsoft’s movement within the market, and its slice of the consumer pie, consider their market cap numbers since 2014. As the below graph shows, it has steadily risen, nearly tripling in that time. Sure, Apple is king… but you can’t argue against growth like that.

Microsoft 5 Year Market Cap Rise Graph
A steady rise in market capitalization is a good thing. A very good thing.

The Road Ahead

Google’s challenge will be to include further developing their Chromebook and Chrome OS using Android applications. If this materializes, then the Chrome OS will offer higher performance and powerful browsing capacities. Similar to Microsoft, Google is actually actively advancing its cloud services and artificial intelligence systems. These will likely have major impacts on the computing industry of the future.

Apple’s advantage continues to be its reliable operating system, as well as the advances it regularly creates in its iPhone and iPad offerings. Still, despite these advantages, Apple has yet to enter the cloud services sector. Apple is also not a major player in artificial intelligence development. They are also very proprietary in their ecosystem.

In the last quarter, Microsoft revenues were over $30 billion, with earnings-per-share climbing nearly 25 percent over the year. Yet what was once a desktop PC market has rapidly evolved into a mobile- and cloud-based services model. The next wave will involve not only AI but also virtual reality, according to Nadella. As a result, Microsoft is moving away from devices and hardware and is doubling down on its diversified subscription-based strategy.

cartoon of a Microsoft King shooing away Apple King and Google King in the battle of Microsoft revenues
Microsoft, Google & Apple can potentially shake up the future of the computing world. But based on recent trends, is Microsoft taking the lead in doing so?

Will Microsoft Reclaim the Crown?

Ultimately, Nadella’s goal is to create a cohesive experience for customers across multiple devices and services. This move means ensuring the Windows experience can be enjoyed anytime and anyplace using any application desired.

By using Azure and cloud-based software, Nadella seeks to move Microsoft revenues into market leadership in the short term. And by investing in AI and VR technology development, he hopes to drive Microsoft revenue.

Google, Apple, and Microsoft each have the potential to shake up the future of the computing sector. However, based on recent trends and future pursuits, Microsoft may well be in the best position to make this claim.

To learn more about Nadella and his Bold Leadership over Microsoft, read our Bold Leader Spotlight of the week article featuring him.

Microsoft Seems To Be Taking the Crown From Apple and Google Cartoon

cartoon of a Microsoft King shooing away Apple King and Google King in the battle of Microsoft revenues
Microsoft, Google & Apple can potentially shake up the future of the computing world. But based on recent trends, is Microsoft taking the lead in doing so?

Bold Leader Spotlight: Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

Being a native of India, Satya Nadella probably did not envision becoming CEO of Microsoft—one of the most powerful companies in the world. Even so, in 2014, Satya Nadella became the third CEO of Microsoft Corporation in the company’s 43-year history. At the time, Microsoft was no longer the “cool” kid on the block—bold leadership and a new direction were desperately needed.

In 2014, when he took over, Microsoft’s market share in the computing sector was rapidly losing ground to competitors like Apple, Google, and Facebook. In retrospect, you wouldn’t have guessed it had happened. That’s because Microsoft has significantly changed and poised itself ready to reinvent the future of computing under Satya Nadella’s bold leadership.

This started day one when he pronounced to the world that Microsoft needed to be ready to embrace the cloud and that their technology needed to run on all platforms. These were huge departures from his predecessor, Steve Ballmer.  Ever since that day, he has delivered on his promise – in just four years growing Microsoft’s market cap from $300B to over $860B, the third largest.

cartoon caricature of Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, posing as the bold leader spotlight of the week
With Satya Nadella at the helm as Microsoft’s CEO, the company seems to have a big, bright future ahead. How is his bold leadership driving positive change?

A Bold Leader Needs to  Overcome Troubled Waters

What makes the feat even more remarkable is that fact that when Satya Nadella took the reins of Microsoft in 2014, it was no secret the company had serious issues. Under former leadership, Microsoft had several failed attempts related to mobile computing, Internet search, and social media sectors.  He also inherited the disastrous Nokia acquisition.

Microsoft’s stock price had dropped significantly, and analysts questioned whether the computing giant would still be relevant in the future. Transformative change and bold leadership were undoubtedly needed.

Taking Bold Moves in Transforming a Culture

Satya Nadella saw Microsoft’s culture and its our-way-or-the-highway reputation in the tech sector as the primary problems. The culture had become toxic and plagued with corporate politics, posturing, and conflict. New ideas were harshly examined with pitches undergoing Spanish Inquisition-like evaluations.

One of the things that happens when you’re super successful is you sort of sometimes lose touch with what made you successful in the first place,” Nadella told Cnet. “I wanted to go back to the very genesis of this company: What is that sense of purpose and drive that made us successful? What was the culture that may have been there in the very beginning or in the times when we were able to achieve that success? How do we really capture it?

However, that all changed under his bold leadership through the “renaissance programs” he started, such as One Week and Hackathon. Microsoft’s global program, One Week, invites Microsoft’s 131,000 employees from around the world to collaborate on innovative technology ideas for the future. Satya Nadella, in essence, transformed Microsoft’s working environment overnight into one that became inclusive, collaborative, innovative and creative. Through many initiatives like this, Microsoft is regaining its relevance in the developer community, after ceding it to Google, Salesforce, Facebook, and Apple.

Satya Nadella on What it Means to be Cool
Satya Nadella on What it Means to be Cool

A Bold Leadership Vision that Yields Bold Results

Part of being a bold leader involves not only envisioning future opportunities but also learning from past mistakes. Satya Nadella certainly embodies these bold leadership qualities.

Notably, several evolutionary trends in computing left Microsoft on the sidelines. Social media and mobile technologies were perhaps among the largest. The new CEO of Microsoft’s focus was not to attempt to catch up in these areas but instead to move the company forward. Thus, by learning from the company’s past missteps, he was able to accomplish this in a very dynamic and impressive way.

Satya Nadella championed change within Microsoft by moving the company away from delivering packaged software. Instead, he began pursuing two new innovative subscription-based computing technologies—cloud computing and augmented (virtual) reality. Subsequently, Azure, Microsoft’s cloud-based services division, now ranks second within this $15.6 billion industry to Amazon Web Services. In addition, he also directed company initiatives in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and IoT (the Internet of Things).

During the last quarter, Microsoft’s Azure, Office 365 cloud software, Linkedin and Surface businesses outpaced its Windows commercial products. Microsoft is now challenging Google and Apple for the Technology king with the goal of retaking the kingdom.

The CEO of Microsoft’s bold leadership vision has been to create a safe and seamless experience for customers across all platforms. As a result, Microsoft’s annual revenues now exceed $114 billion, and Microsoft’s stock has tripled in value under his leadership.

a photo quote of Bob O'Donnell about Satya Nadella
Bob O’Donnel Discusses Microsoft CEO

Driving Positive Social Change Through Bold Leadership

Bold leaders also act ethically, responsibly and for the betterment of society. Satya Nadella epitomizes these characteristics as highlighted in several Microsoft initiatives today. For example, Microsoft has committed to investing $40 million in “AI for Good” over the next five years. This Microsoft initiative involves the use of artificial intelligence to find technological solutions for severe global problems. Specifically, targeted global issues include disaster recovery, children’s needs, refugee and displaced persons, and human rights protections.

Satya Nadella has also pushed ethical agendas at Microsoft under his bold leadership. Microsoft now has an AETHER committee, which stands for “AI and Ethics in Engineering and Research.” The CEO of Microsoft believes it is the company’s social responsibility to deploy AI in a trustworthy and ethical manner. In fact, Microsoft has halted some already-started AI projects solely because of ethical concerns.

During Microsoft’s “Build 2018” developers’ conference, he said, “We have the responsibility to ensure that the new-age technology is empowering everyone, creating equitable growth for all, while creating employment on the global scale.”

By placing societal empowerment and advancement over profits alone, Satya Nadella personifies bold leadership. Just as he is proving with his actions and strategies, win-win scenarios can be created when companies pursue things the right way.

a photo quote of Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft and the bold leader of the week
Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO Discusses Ambitions

A Bold, Bright Future for Microsoft

Market analysists are bullish on Microsoft these days—and for a good reason. Satya Nadella has demonstrated precisely the bold leadership needed to reinvent Microsoft as an innovative and transformative company. Nevertheless, Microsoft is not looking to go at it alone. As the CEO of Microsoft himself has pointed out, empowerment comes through collaboration and partnerships. In point of fact, Microsoft recently announced its Open Data Initiative at its annual “Ignite” conference. This initiative involves a partnership with SAP and Adobe to advance interoperability among platforms.

Satya Nadella has a clear vision of how to make Microsoft successful. Nonetheless, he also has a broader vision that encompasses all individuals, all societies and the global community at large. By all accounts, Satya Nadella reflects the bold leadership needed in today’s businesses.

Satya Nadella Is A Bold Leader With A Clear Vision For Microsoft Cartoon

cartoon caricature of Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, posing as the bold leader spotlight of the week
With Satya Nadella at the helm as Microsoft’s CEO, the company seems to have a big, bright future ahead. How is his bold leadership driving positive change?