Apple, Google, Microsoft – What do they do best?

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently made some interesting points about what he thinks are the core strengths of Microsoft and its competitors Apple and Google.

Though I can’t really say I particularly like Microsoft products or would use them as a platform or tools for my own products there’s some truth to these statements:

“Whereas in our case our identity really is about empowering others to build products.”

“[ … ] we want to be the tools provider, the platform provider [ … ]”

Google, Amazon and Apple might do a better job in some respects when it comes to cloud and mobile platforms but their respective core strengths, their raisons d’être lie elsewhere. Though both Google and Amazon are key players in the cloud infrastructure business and provide thousands of companies with the means of creating and delivering web-based products their core strengths are search / information retrieval / artifical intelligence and eCommerce / logistics, respectively. Cloud infrastructure business just happened to make sense to both Google and Amazon along the way, in part because they already had the necessary infrastructure at their disposal. Apple, on the other hand, provides tools and platforms for creating great mobile software products and has always been strong on creating products that help others create. From the get-got they’ve also always been a devices company, though. A company whose business model revolves around hardware.

Microsoft’s business model always was about software that helps others create stuff. In most cases, especially in the earlier days, this meant rather bland stuff such as spreadsheets, business presentations and office documents but it can’t be denied that Microsoft ushered in a new era, in which suddenly every office worker was capable of creating complex calculations and business presentations. Microsoft also is very keen on providing tools that allowed developers to create products for the Windows platform and Microsoft’s enterprise products. Bill Gates and others at Microsoft probably understood better and earlier than anyone else that a computing platform can only be successful if it allows developers to easily create software for it.

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