domingo, abril 17, 2011

Apple/Microsoft: Dos estrategias, dos modelos

Esta es la segunda nota relacionada con la explosión de la computación móvil. En esta segunda, de lo que se trata es de la capacidad de adaptación a la evolución de la industria. Así como hace treinta años la aparición de la PC opacó a la industria basada en mainframes, y hace alrededor de quince la World Wide Web produjo el florecimiento de múltiples actores y negocios, hoy la telefonía móvil vuelve a renovarlo todo.
En los últimos tiempos, se ha escrito mucho sobre el sorprendente cambio de la relación entre Apple y Microsoft, si nos remontamos a la época en que Microsoft salió al rescate de una Apple al borde de la quiebra. En estos días, una nota de Adam Hartung, reflexiona en Forbes con claridad sobre el significado y alcance de esta transformación. un cambio de hegemonías que tiene que ver con estilos de gerenciamiento y visión. Dice Hartung:
Most folks know that Apple is now worth more than Microsoft.  Although few realize the huge difference.  After years of dominating as the premier “PC” company, Microsoft is now worth only about 2/3 the value of Apple – $224B versus $310B (or, said differently, Apple is worth about 50% more than Microsoft.)  Apple’s has slingshotted past Microsoft the last year because Apple grew revenue almost 50% in both fyscal 2009 and 2010 – thus doubling revenues. Contrarily, Microsoft saw revenue decline 3% in 2009, and only grow 7% in 2010, putting revenues up a net 3% over the 2 years.
What few realize is how much Microsoft spent trying to grow, but failed.  A look at 2009 R&D expenditures showed Microsoft outspent all tech competitors in its class – spending 8 times what Apple spent!

What did customers and investors receive for this whopping Microsoft outlay? An updated operating system (Windows 7, built on Vista) and set of office automation tools (Office 2010) to run on existing products.  Nothing that excited customers, created new demand, or incremental sales.  On the other hand, for its much lower spending Apple gave investors upgrades to iPods, the iPhone and the operating system for the later released iPad.
Microsoft opened its check book and spent like crazy in its effort to defend its historical PC products business.  And the cost was more than just dollars.  That “focus” cost Microsoft its position in other growth markets; like smartphones.   Few recall that as recently as 2008 Microsoft was the leading smartphone platform:
In order to defend its “core” business, Microsoft under-invested in smartphones and over-invested in its historical personal computing products.  Now, PC growth has stalled as people are switching to new products based on cloud computing – like smartphones and tablets.
Apple is cleaning up with its investments, while Microsoft is hoping it can catch up by enticing its former executive, now the CEO at Nokia, to revamp Nokia’s cellular product line using the Windows Phone 7 operating system.  Good luck, because the market is already way, way out front with Apple and Android products:

That was the past. We’d like to know if Apple will keep growing like crazy, and if Microsoft will do what’s necessary to grow as well.  And that’s where some recent announcements point out that Apple, quite simply, is better managed than Microsoft.  Apple management is making decisions helping the company to grow, and Microsoft isn’t.
ZDNet reported on the “changing of the guard” at Apple in March.  Due to its different product development investment approach, iOS is now bigger than the MacOS.  The “legacy” product – that made Apple into a famous company in the 1980s – has been eclipsed by the new product.  And the old technology leader is graciously moving on to do research in a scientific community, while Apple pours its resources into developing products for the future. New people, in new roles, pushing new products for new markets.  That’s smart.
Lest we forget history, the Lisa was a product that Steve Jobs personally shepherded to market – yet didn’t succeed.  He personally remained involved, converting Lisa into the wildly successful 1980s Mac (see AOL Small Business story on history of Lisa and Mac.) You gotta love it when that CEO, his leadership team and all the managers later transition their primary loyalty and put resources into the future product line in order to keep growing!  MacOS is not dead, not declining, nor is it going to be devoid of resources.  But the future of Apple lies in growing the new platform, and that is where the most resources, best talent and dollars are being focused.
Comparatively, Microsoft announced this week it is changing its Chief Marketing Officer ( And, not surprisingly, Microsoft did NOT select someone with smartphone, tablet or even gaming/entertainment expertise for the role.  Even though those markets are clearly where future growth lies.  Instead of identifying a leader who deeply understands the emerging, growth markets, Microsoft appointed as the next CMO the fellow who had been responsible for selling – wait – guess – Office, Sharepoint, Exchange and the other historical, legacy Microsoft products.  Those products which have had very little growth – primarily maintenance sales.  Instead of reaching into the future for its leadership, CEO Ballmer once again reached into the past.  Hard to be optimistic about growth.
If you ever wonder why Apple is worth so much more to investors than Microsoft, just think about this moment in the marketplace.  Apple is investing its best talent and resources into new products in new markets that are demonstrating growth.  Microsoft, struggling with growth, keeps placing “old guard” leaders into top positions, attempting to defend the historical business – hoping to recapture past glory.
Apple is better managed because it keeps looking to the future, while Microsoft just can’t seem to get over its past.  Good thing Steve Ballmer is already rich.  Too bad all the Microsoft employees aren’t.
¿Es un negocio consistente la telefonía móvil, o se trata de una burbuja? Seguramente es un negocio que llega para permanecer, aunque quizá Apple no sea la firma de mayor valor del mundo, como su valuación en bolsa indica. Si no sucumbe a una eventual burbuja, su existencia futura está asegurada. La suerte de Microsoft seguramente también, pero con serios problemas de conducción...
Los gráficos son originales de la nota de Adam Hartung, quien indica que su fuente es Silicone Alley Insider Chart of the Day, de

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