Whether or not Apple and Microsoft officially renew their cooperation pact, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates know that their companies’ fortunes are intimately linked, Charles Haddad opines in his latest
Byte of the Apple column for Business Week Online .
Now that the much-ballyhooed five-year agreement between the two companies is about to expire, many folks are wondering what will happen regarding Microsoft products on the Mac platform. Haddad isn’t worried. He says (as Apple itself has pointed out) that Adobe, Macromedia and Quark haven’t signed any multiyear deals regarding the Mac platform. And Apple isn’t in the same position it was in 1997, Haddad says.
“Five years ago, it was fighting for its life as its sales and market position plummeted,” he said. “Today, the company is doing amazingly well, especially considering the PC market’s continuing weakness. Last week, Apple reported second-quarter profits of $40 million, on revenue of $1.5 billion, beating Wall Street estimates. No longer do even ardent PC supporters write off Apple as irrelevant.”
Haddad adds that a steady parade of “new, eye-popping products” such as the iPod and new flat panel iMac “have refurbished Apple’s image as a trendsetter.” Plus, Apple and Microsoft both know that, for better or worse, their fates are entwined, Haddad says.
No one would take the Mac seriously if it couldn’t run Office and Internet Explorer, which dominate the markets for productivity software and Web browsers, respectively, the columnist writes. And Microsoft needs Apple for a variety of reasons. One: Office for the Mac is very profitable. Two: Apple provides political cover in Microsoft’s argument that it’s no monopolist.
“Plus, although he’d rather choke a monkey than admit it, Gates uses Apple as his shadow research and development team,” Haddad writes. “Nearly every innovation pioneered by Apple has been eventually incorporated into Windows. Isn’t imitation the highest form of flattery? Indeed, the Microsoft chairman has long professed his admiration of the Mac operating system’s technical genius.”
Meanwhile, Business Week Online is running a reader survey on whether “Microsoft and Apple should stay hitched?” You can cast your opinion at the