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Google vs Microsoft vs Apple vs Google vs…

It has been a hectic opening to 2010 in the high technology world. Apple sells over a million iPads, faster they claim than the iPhone but the jury is still out in terms of usability. It looks like other potential entrants including Microsoft, Dell and HP may retool their devices after the success of the iPad. Will Apple be able to fix the issues with version 1 and get version 2 to market before their competition get their versions out?

Meanwhile heavy-handed tactics with Gizmondo makes Apple fans (like the US comedy talk show host John Stewart) uncomfortable.

Microsoft says that 10% of worldwide PC’s are now running the  Windows 7 operating system but it’s internet browser gets squeezed by Google’s Chrome browser. Perhaps the number of patches that Microsoft have had to use in recent years to fill security gaps has finally caught up with them.

The successful multinational HP, which has done well in the recent downturn, somewhat surprisingly buys struggling Palm and pays what seems to be an over the odds $1.2 billion for it. Most assume that the real prize for HP is in terms of smartphones;  by getting their hands on Palm they can now look forward to embedding Palm’s webOS in future devices, for example a ‘slate’ to compete with Apple.

As technology markets collide and technology convergence continues, it will be harder for analysts and pracademics like me to get a full handle on the competitive landscape. Google obviously want to compete with Microsoft as their Android system starts to get interest from hardware producers. While Apple continues its ‘Second to Market, First to Dominate’ strategy that worked so well with the iPod and iPhone, it will have to accelerate the development of the next version of the iPad if it can get past the ‘chasm’ that many tech companies have fallen into.

Jim Collins the oracle of ‘Good to Great’ and ‘Built to Last’ had a somewhat less well-known book about failure called ‘How the Mighty Fail.’ Having worked in two start-ups, I probably learnt more from the first failure (and the near-failure that was the second) than anything else in my working life. Collins talks about ‘hubris born of success’ or what I teach in management class as ‘the chess board mentality.’

Both Apple and Microsoft have had their issues over the years, and Jobs of all people should know what failure looks like (his failure to stay in the company he started and the failure of his other computer company NeXT, which was a real failure despite it’s buy-out by Apple). Microsoft weathered legal challenges and the fact that it jumped into the dot.com world very late.

Will Google make the same mistake? Many of its recent innovations have gained prominence but the majority of its revenue and profit still comes from the same source – advertising.

I have a theory that Google will end up being a leading green sustainable technology company in ten years time but that is another story.

We are living in interesting times.

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