Apple and Microsoft: Rivalry Between the Two Tech Giants
Apple had a virtual product launch in November announcing the company's Mac reboot. Apple enlisted John Hodgman who appeared in an ill-fitting suit before a white Backdrop which depicted the actor as a nerd. Hodgman made a reference to the popular Mac versus PC television commercial that aired a decade ago telegraphing with little to no subtlety, the idea that Microsoft was not cool and Apple was.
Apple chose the virtual product launch to communicate to Mac fans that the new devices would be getting a more powerful processor. However, an unmistakable subtext of the campaign was that the old rivalry between Microsoft and Apple was back.
Both tech Giants have for several years collaborated for various reasons. With Microsoft Office and other Microsoft apps appearing on the iPhone and iPad, Microsoft was even an invited guest to an Apple product launch. Furthermore, Xbox controllers have become more compatible on Apple devices while Microsoft's products are integrated more easily with new Apple features like the Apple pencil and magic keyboard. Xbox last year also featured Apple's TV app.
By the time the PC character came back, Microsoft had made some negative comments about Apple to regulators, stating that Apple's App store was anti-competitive. Microsoft sided with Epic games, a gaming firm suing Apple for booting the Fortnite title from the App Store as well as accusing Apple of monopolistic behavior.
Furthermore, a Microsoft executive has taken the stand against Apple at the court proceeding which has now moved on to its second week. The Microsoft executive told the court that Apple’s vice-like grip on its app store had negatively impacted Microsoft's gaming efforts. The tensions will likely be high once the court comes to a verdict because Apple and Microsoft both have their sights set on domination. From cloud computing to gaming, to artificial intelligence, custom processors, tablets, and mixed reality headsets, both tech Giants have been going toe to toe for control.
The renewed rivalry between Microsoft and Apple started last year when Microsoft developed a cloud gaming service for iPad models and iPhone devices called Xcloud. The service allowed users to pay a monthly fee to Microsoft and stream dozens of different gaming titles from the cloud using one app. The service was intended to revolutionize gaming (much like Netflix revolutionized video), and influence gamers to turn their Apple gadgets into a more powerful gaming platform backed by Xbox, a leading name in the gaming industry.
Microsoft however failed to launch the service as intended due to failure to persuade Apple to lose the App store rules that forbade all-in-one gaming services. Microsoft was originally barred from launching any cloud-based gaming whatsoever. However, a few months later, after the concerns about Apple's ban on streaming applications became public knowledge, Apple modified the rules. The new rules allow Microsoft to launch a cloud gaming service however, the games would require a separate download which defeats the purpose of an all-in-one solution. Microsoft has started rolling out the service on Apple devices via the internet, which is a lot less seamless than a real application.
Microsoft president, Brad Smith also started encouraging European and United States’ antitrust regulators to take a closer look at Apple's practices. He went further by implying that Apple imposes monopolistic requirements on their platform. In an interview with a Politico reporter, Smith added that Apple's behavior was worse than the actions that led Microsoft to the antitrust hot seat two decades ago.
Once the trial started, there was little to no chance of resolution. Microsoft's vice president of business development for Xbox, Lori Wright testified that Apple's rules have negatively impacted Microsoft's gaming efforts, supporting Epic's claims that Apple is in violation of antitrust. Apple retaliated by stating that Microsoft earns 600 to 700 million dollars annually from its business relationship with Epic games. Hence Microsoft is simply defending epic games because of the mutual business advantages.
Furthermore, Apple made the argument that Microsoft's Xbox download store has rules that are similar to Apple's App store rules which include charging a 30% commission and mandating its own payment system in addition to banning alternative digital marketplaces. Apple also established that because Microsoft is an iOS developer, if Apple is forced to revamp the App Store, Microsoft stands to benefit.
Microsoft spokesman Frank X. Shaw stated in an email that the company clearly disagreed with Apple's refusal to allow users to stream games via the App store. However, the disagreement will not prevent both companies from collaborating on other topics as they do with iOS and Mac devices running Microsoft 365.
This statement might be accurate. However, there are other potential clash topics between both companies. Both companies compete vigorously in the booming personal computer market. Apple's Mac sales doubled in the first quarter according to International Data Corporation, exceeding the sales growth of Microsoft Windows operating system PCs by more than 200%. Although Apple only holds 8% of the computer market, the company's upgrades are quite popular with the numerous Americans who will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future even after the pandemic subsides.
In addition, Apple is planning to release a mixed reality headset in the coming year in an effort to venture into a territory staked out by Microsoft years ago with the Hololens. Microsoft has explored the possibility of developing chips for its line of devices similar to Apple's strategy that has helped the company boost sales. Both companies are also in direct competition for talent in Cloud infrastructure and artificial intelligence, two promising future prospects. Microsoft has even resumed efforts to make its own phones, this time the devices will be powered by another Apple competitor, Google's Android.
From all past indications, the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft may get worse. With the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple having likened the launch of iTunes on Windows to providing a glass of water to someone in a hellish inferno. Apple has also been observed to regularly poke fun at Microsoft's software, accusing the company of imitating Apple designs.
Recently Microsoft began running commercials that compared the company's surface hybrid tablets and laptops with the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro.Source