Wednesday, October 23, 2013

All Those Talks About Free Apple Apps and OS And How It's Bad For Microsoft, It's Too Early


Whenever I can get a great deal on things I like, I feel pretty good about it.  When I can get it for free?  Hallelujah!  That's what Apple made possible on Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013, during their iPad media event when Apple showed us their vision and paved the way to the future.

Many things are being talked about and sportscentered (like that?  I just turned the ESPN Sport Center into a verb) over.  One of them is how Apple has made a lot of apps free.  iLife.  iWork. And of course, the soul of all Macs, OS X.  This year's update is called Mavericks.

Of the three, Mavericks and iWork are being talked about in a specific manner:  how this will impact Microsoft.

To put it into context, we have to take a couple of steps back.  Apple may have started the personal computer revolution in the late 70s and really turned the world on its head with the Macintosh in 1984.  Then, Microsoft was but an app company by today's standard.  It sold Excel on the Mac in 1985 (wiki).  Word joined Excel on the Mac in 1987 (wiki).  Microsoft made apps.

But then it released its Windows OS and the rest is history as each subsequent release was improved up and, eventually, Microsoft, won the PC war.  I won't go into the details of what happened.  

To this day, Microsoft still dominate the PC market in terms of OS shares.  And not only that, it also dominate the office productivity share with its Office suite.  And Microsoft makes the vast majority of its profit selling licensed copies of Windows and Office.  

So, now you see why folks are saying that by giving away OS X and iWork, Apple is going to hit Microsoft where it hurts.  Maybe.

I don't agree or disagree with that assessment.  I like to offer possible reason why Apple is doing this, at least, with giving iWork away for free.  What Apple did on Tuesday was not a one-two punch but a block and a punch.

It's trying to block Microsoft's attempts to make further inroads into both the smartphone and tablet markets while trying to show the market that it has the office apps that are good enough for the vast majority of the market.  Be it the home, education, or enterprise market.  Not everyone is going to need the 80% of all the tools that Microsoft Office has like the pivot table.

We're okay with Pages, Numbers, and Keynote functions.  And all those functions may represent just 20% of all that Office apps can do but they are all of the 20% of Office that 90% of the market really needs.  

It's a good rational on Apple's part.  iWork is free and will always be free but anyone who wants to use Office will have to fork over around $130 a year.  That's also a good argument.  

But don't count Microsoft out.  Google Docs has been free for years and has made some inroads into government and enterprise but it's still nothing Microsoft is all that worried about.  Microsoft has learned from the market and adapted and I'm sure the same could be said how it will deal with Apple.

As for Mavericks and future OS X updates being free,  I don't think the majority of the PC market cares all that much.  Not in the short-term.  

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