Business Week’s resident Mac maven Charles Haddad tells his fellow Mac fans not to get too upset when they see how much Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system looks like Mac OS X. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Haddad’s comments come in a new article entitled Go Ahead, Microsoft, Flatter Apple Again.
Haddad said that XP features including Windows Movie Maker, My Pictures and a revamped Windows Media Player strike a familiar chord for anyone familiar with iMovie, Image Capture and iTunes. “All comprise the heart of Apple’s digital hub strategy, in which a computer serves as Grand Central Station, moving digital data across platforms and among various devices. It’s a strategy, of course, that Microsoft also claims as its own.”
Whether Microsoft has actually copied Apple’s own innovations isn’t relevant, said Haddad. He compares Microsoft’s efforts to that of soda makers and television show producers, where one good idea is inevitably aped by the competition. “In our capitalist culture, mimicry is the highest form of flattery,” said Haddad.
Haddad also suggested that no matter how good Mac OS X might be, Windows will probably remain “just good enough for most users.” Haddad said that Microsoft has never excelled as an innovator — its strength is in commercializing the works of others, including Apple.
In fact, said Haddad, Microsoft helps Apple when it copies the Cupertino company’s innovations. It popularizes them to the masses that would otherwise remain ignorant of what Apple’s doing, and it reenforces Apple’s position as the industry leader, regardless of what the marketshare reflects. Haddad romanticizes Apple’s position in the computer industry as a kind of Robin Hood — a stylish alternative, a bit of an outlaw.
Ultimately, Haddad said, marketshare isn’t that important — even if Apple grabbed another couple of percentage points, it’d be great. But keep on copying, Microsoft, said Haddad — “You’ll only help showcase how superior the Mac is to a PC.”