This sea change in computer preferences is not just limited to hipsters you might expect to find at a coffee shop in a university town.
A colleague who works for a large Silicon Valley software company related a similar tale. Last week, in a meeting with one of the world’s largest retailers, all fifteen attendees were using Apple laptops.
It wasn’t always this way. There was a time, not so long ago, that it seemed like Microsoft was invincible. What changed?
A strategy for early years
Microsoft’s strategy worked very well when personal computing was new to the world. Companies and individuals were struggling to define what devices were and more generally, what worked. Microsoft provided a powerful platform for experimentation. Hardware came in all shapes and sizes. User Interfaces showed up in splendid variety.
We were living in an 100/0 world and computing devices needed to serve all needs. We were just learning how computers might make our lives better – from sending instant mail to sharing photos to a myriad of other uses we’d never associated with computers. Because these capabilities were so new, and seemed at the time so powerful, we were willing to put up with a lot that didn’t work – or at least didn’t work without a lot of expert assistance. If you are a technology history buff, you might think of this period as similar to when companies needed to hire engineers to manage their private dynamos to benefit from electricity.
A strategy for today
We’ve now passed beyond this early phase. We know what a laptop should look like (a Macbook or Macbook Air) and what a tablet should look like (an iPad). We are no longer willing to put up with things that don’t seem to work. Indeed, Apple picked up on this undercurrent with the “it just works” campaign, which was squarely aimed at the frustration users all too too often felt when things failed to work. Instead of experimentation built around a single OS, Apple provided a complete integrated solution where hardware, software and increasingly cloud all work together. Sometime in the early ’00’s, we’d left the era of the individual dynamo and entered the period of the always on utility. A strategy that may have worked brilliantly in the early years wasn’t fit for today.
Is your company pursuing a strategy for another time?