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Apple on Pace to Pass Microsoft as Biggest Technology Company

Most of us know that statistics are one of the famous three types of lies -- but they manage to be interesting, anyway. So we couldn't help but notice this week that Apple is close to becoming the world's most valuable technology company.

That spot, of course, has had Microsoft's name on it for years now. But while Redmond has floundered with its efforts to develop cool consumer technologies, Apple has re-made its name with its various and near-ubiquitous "I" devices. Suddenly Anthony Michael Hall's declaration as Bill Gates in the epic film Pirates of Silicon Valley is starting to seem dated. In case you had forgotten (and we really don't know how that's possible), the made-for-TV Gates bellows at Noah Wyle's Steve Jobs: “I got the loot, Steve!”

Well, Steve has the loot now, and he has for a while. (Bill, in fact, is now more interested in giving his loot away.) Apple has been gaining on Microsoft for some time in the battle to be the number one tech company, and it'll likely catch Redmond at some point -- possibly very soon. And for Microsoft partners, that's OK.

Really? Yes, really. It might be a good thing, actually. Microsoft has tried and mostly failed to be consumer cool -- a category Apple has just about managed to dominate. But for most Microsoft partners, and for RCPU readers in particular, consumer cool doesn't mean much. It's that boring old enterprise stuff that brings in the checks.

And that's where Microsoft needs to continue to focus -- as it has, successfully thus far, with products such as Windows Server 2008 R2 and, to some extent, Windows 7. Let Apple go shooting past Microsoft and become technology king of the mountain. That's fine. Hopefully Microsoft will get some inspiration from being the underdog for once. And hopefully Steve Ballmer and crew will realize that if they can't catch up to Apple in cool, they can still stay way ahead in practical and useful.

That's what partners, who probably have iPhones, like and need. Plus, serving the enterprise is something Apple will never seriously be able to do. Microsoft's rivalry is with Google now, and with IBM, Amazon and a few other big enterprise vendors, too. It shouldn't be with Apple anymore. Let Steve Jobs have the loot. Steve Ballmer has more important things to do -- like protecting enterprise market share.

Do you see Apple possibly becoming the biggest technology company in the world as a good or a bad sign for Microsoft? Sound off at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 05/26/2010 at 1:23 PM


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