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Microsoft Should Fear Apple's Buzz

Microsoft Should Fear Apple's Buzz

by , 3:40 PM EDT, March 28th, 2007

Apple has become smarter about competing with Microsoft. That and the switch to Intel should be cause for concern by Microsoft, according to ComputerWorld's Scot Finnie on Wednesday.

"The switch to Intel was just such a chess move.... It solves a performance problem Apple had. It creates a better experience for Intel-Mac owners because it better supports Windows applications.... Perhaps most significantly, though, all these advantages appeal to potentially millions of Mac-curious Windows users because it makes the Mac more familiar," Mr. Finnie wrote.

The buzz that Apple has been able to create has resulted in many IT managers slowly coming to appreciate Mac OS X instead of disparaging the Mac platform. "The Mac is experiencing a renaissance," Mr. Finnie reported. "It's about Intel inside. It's about Unix at the core. It's about virtualization technology. It's about the surprising availability of software. It's about a superior operating system, and attractive hardware. It's about serious buzz."

The net result of all this has been a certain undefinable atmosphere. To be sure, Microsoft retains vast market share and isn't likely to lose any of it very soon. However, PC users were expecting Vista to be a home run, and it was much less. Meanwhile Apple is hitting home runs with every product.

Along with this, Microsoft seems to be involved in one failure after another and shouldn't rest too easy. Mr. Finnie observed that "[Microsoft] has had huge problems with security this decade. Through its own inattention to Internet Explorer, it allowed Mozilla's Firefox to gain a bridgehead on browser market share. Even dyed-in-the-wool Windows enterprises are fed up with me-too Microsoft upgrades, the never-ending blizzard of security patches, the increasing hardware requirements for Vista, volume licensing snafus, and a litany of other complaints and sore points."

The bottom line is that it's all about perception and buzz. Apple has somehow managed to gain the upper hand in every area of marketing buzz. The author concluded, "How do you measure buzz? You don't. It's something that experienced people in this industry can just feel. And that's the condition Microsoft should fear. Because buzz can turn into something much harder to combat than sheer numbers."

That may be why, these days, whenever Steve Ballmer is interviewed, he's asked about Apple products.

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