Of the big three, Microsoft, Google and Apple which will continue to grow over the next 15 years, and which will not or, perhaps, even become irrelevant?

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I think Microsoft is entering a second Rennaissance, Google will continue to grow (albiet much more slowly) and Apple will fade.

Microsoft is in the middle of a major cultural shift and repositioning of what the company focuses on. They also have the benefit of an incredibly deep and broad patent library, decades of heavy investment in R&D for technology that is just comming into its own (IOT, VR, AR, Cloud Computing) and the portfolio of products both support those strengths holistically and to anchor adoption of those new technologies with established and profitable business lines like Office, XBox, Windows, etc. They don’t need to establish new categories because they’ve been quietly investing in those areas for years, and they have established a solid reputation in areas where Google, Apple and Amazon are weak.

Google will attempt to shift more of their focus out of Ad Tech and into consumer/end user experiences where they can start monetizing investment in consumer cloud services. They’re already doing this to an extend with G-Suite and Schools, but increased investment in AI services (like what you’re seeing with Lens and Voice) will grow. Their biggest threat will be regulatory. Google has played fast and loose with privacy and consumer surveilance, and is facing a lot of questions over they are using monopoly power in search to unfairly compete in areas like devices. I think there is a significant risk of Google getting broken up in the next 10 years under anti-trust. I think Amazon and Facebook will encounter similar isues.

Apple is a one trick pony, which has always been their fatal flaw. They rely on hardware sales with a high margin and a walled garden strategy for content and apps (on mobile) to retain customers.

Their focus on hardware and operating systems, and monetizing a captive customer base has come at a cost, they haven’t invested much in quality cloud services, and consumers are quickly adopting services to replace what they formerly did with desktop software and local files downloaded from the internet. Their hardware and software don’t play nicely with other devices or open standards and their business model requires that customers upgrade on a regular basis for them to remain profitable and growing.

You can already see this at play in IOS. Its a bloated, aging operating system that isn’t as capable or impressive as it used to be, and never became a dominant force in Asia and Africa (where all the growth is)
Their services (iCloud, Siri, etc) are terrible compared to Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, and many developers are finding it easier to offer their products in mobile web vs native apps, which circumvents Apple’s 30% tax on subscriptions. Outside of games, the most common apps anyone uses on Apple are free services or support subscriptions you pay for elsewhere. In app purchasing is pretty small potatoes by comparison.
On the hardware side, their focus on fashion and making everything thinner and sleeker, has made their hardware hard to use, underpowered, and increasingly expensive to own. The fact that they’ve been raising prices is a good signal that these issues are already effecting profitability. They’ve stopped publishing unit sales on iPhone, and raised the prices because they need to improve the unit economics. If fewer people buy iPhones, skip releases or switch to Android, you need to raise prices because fewer people need to make up the difference in revenue. On the current trend, Apple will be a marginal player in a lot less than fifteen years.

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