Without competition, there is little motivation for progress or improvement, which is why it’s healthy to have competitors in every sphere and stage in life. Just like there are some rivalries between soccer teams like Lazio and Roma, Barcelona and Real Madrid or Liverpool and Manchester, there are rivals in the corporate field. One of the most well-known rivalries on a tech front is the one between Apple and Microsoft. That rivalry still exists so it would be fun to see how it all happened.
They weren’t competitors from the start
Both companies were founded at a similar time, Microsoft was formed back in 1975 and Apple a year later in 1976. During this initial phase, Gates would go to Apple and see what they were working on, However, during one of those visits something changed and it was when Steve Jobs went to meet Bill Gets, in order to see if it would be possible to create Windows Software for Macintosh which is Apple’s computer with new GUI. This time around Gates was pretty vocal about his impression and that was that he is not particularly impressed with the products Steve presented.
It seemed that this was a spark that ignited the rivalry, as both sides became more critical towards one another. Gates took a stance that he does not see any particular value in the products made by Apple, whereas Steve said that Microsoft has no sense of aesthetic.
Triumph of the Nerds
One of the documentaries that perfectly captures the relationship between Apple and Microsoft is “Triumph of the Nerds.” It is here that Steve Jobs commented on Microsoft products, and said they lack creativity, taste, and culture. He apologized to Gates for his comments but he said that he stands by his words. This is something we see in Apple today, product culture, and that’s what Steve wanted to build. It’s more than buying a device it’s really like being a member of the prestige group.
However, it’s important to say that all of these are business development, sales, and marketing techniques. From that perspective, Steve knew what he was talking about, as sales are important for any business, but it is also true that they are not the most accurate representation of product quality.
Rivals but not enemies
Apple did hit a rough patch in 1997 when its stock started to plummet. The company was on the brink of bankruptcy and Microsoft actually stepped up to help them. Microsoft invested 150 million USD into Apple’s stock, which reassured investors and helped Apple recover. Steve publicly thanked Bill Gates for that support. Fun fact though, Microsoft would now have earned 21.86 billion USD today if they had not withdrawn their 150 million investment.
One of the most competitive markets nowadays is the smartphone market, and its dominated by iOS and Android phones. Windows wanted to compete here as well which is why windows phones were also introduced. Unfortunately, they did not get a sizable portion of the user base as the first two, but that does not mean things won’t change.
Another good example of modern rivalry is when Windows released its own touch screen products. This is a clear move that they are aiming at iPad and laptop users that are relying on Apple products. However, Apple released a new laptop soon afterward, just to show that they are still in the game and that they won’t hand over their users that easily.