By Rich W Woods
I started this “What If…” section of For the Love of Tech a few months ago. The idea was to ask “what if” questions and then provide a hypothetical scenario of how it would play out. The idea was to create discussion but mostly, to have fun. When I thought of “What if Apple Acted like Microsoft”, it felt like I was finally realizing why I created the entire category.
This column was inspired by a post I saw on Google+. Someone posted one of those “This is what I think of me, what my friends think of me, and what the world thinks of me”, but it showed Android users, iOS users, and BlackBerry users. I commented that I found it interesting that they used BlackBerry as number three instead of Windows Phone and someone else said it was most likely made before Windows Phone. I pointed out that while Windows Phone came out in 2010, Windows Mobile came out in February 2007, and that was Windows Mobile 6. Windows Mobile goes back to 2003 and even goes back before that as Pocket PC and then Windows CE. As it turns out, Windows Phone dates back to the early 90s.
Apple and Microsoft are two completely opposite companies. Apple is a hardware company and Microsoft is a software company, but it gets deeper than that. Apple doesn’t implement features until they know they’ll work while Microsoft fixes it in update one. Apple creates a brand and nurtures that brand until it’s time to abandon it while Microsoft creates a brand, changes the brand, changes it again, abandons the brand, and then brings it back ten years later as something else. So, what if Apple acted like Microsoft?
Let’s start in 2006. In 2006, Apple introduces the Empire, their first smart phone. Users find it to be a jarring interface, what with the sharp cornered tiles and the sloppy system fonts. The Empire runs Mac OS Phone X. Due to the high price tag, Apple writes off a $900 million loss.
Enter: 2007. Apple introduces Mac OS XI 11, effectively forgetting about OS X 10 and moving on to the next step. Obviously, they still push out security updates to OS X users, but for anyone that won’t shell out $200 for OS XI, they won’t see anything new.
Apple then begins to make more Empires. They make the Empire 520, a low end model; however, they can’t use the same name on all carriers, so there’s also the Empire 521. They also produce a number of mid-ranges over the course of the year, including the Empire 620, 625, 720, 810, 820, 822, 920, 925, and 928.
After a year of taking losses on Empire, Apple introduces Mac OS Phone X 10.1 while Macs are on Mac OS XI 11. They really take stock of why consumers are not buying their product and they decide two things: they need to make more low end phones and they need to rebrand Empire. In late 2007, Apple introduces the Apple Macoun 630, 635, and 930.
While the Apple Macoun 635 is released in the United States, the Apple Macoun 930 is not, leaving American users with dated flagships.
In the beginning of 2008, Apple realized that the market share of their productivity suite, iWork, is nowhere near Microsoft’s Office suite. Because of this, Apple changed the name of iWork to iOffice. They change Pages, Numbers, and Keynote to iWord, iExcel, and iPowerPoint, respectively.
A month later, Apple gets sued by Microsoft, as they are obviously infringing on Microsoft’s trademark. Apple changes iOffice back to iWork and iWork, iExcel, and iPowerPoint back to Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, respectively.
Users are still complaining about Apple Macoun and Mac OS Phone X 10.1, but Apple promises that it will keep getting better. They promise that Mac OS Phone XI 11 is coming later that year.
While Apple enthusiasts are anxiously awaiting Mac OS Phone XI 11, Apple releases Mac OS XII 12. Apple Macoun users are beginning to feel frustrated, as Apple clearly keeps making promises for mobile but is also clearly focusing on desktop.
Apple introduces new Lumias throughout the year, including the Apple Macoun 530, 730, 735, and 830. There is still no flagship for American users.
Apple still realizes that iWork has nowhere near the market share of Microsoft Office. Instead of opening up the productivity to other platforms, they decide that rebranding iWork again is surely what will do the trick. iWork becomes Apple Work and instead of rebranding Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, they bundle it all into one app.
To end 2008, Apple decides that the Mac isn’t selling enough, so instead of focusing on the product and recognizing a clear vision, they decide that Macs will now be known as Granny Smiths. Granny Smiths still run Mac OS XII 12 while Macouns still run Mac OS Phone X 10.1.
They also push out an update to Apple Macouns at the end of 2008. Instead of Mac OS Phone XI 11, they push out Mac OS Phone X 10.1 Update 1, a few bug fixes and a new feature or two.
In the beginning of 2009, Apple decides to unbundle Apple Work back into the three separate apps that it once was. Those apps are called Documents, Spreadsheets, and Presentations.
In the Spring of 2009, Apple announced Mac OS XIII 13 as well as Mac OS Phone 13, but they also announce a new version of Mac OS, Mac OS RT. Mac OS RT is designed to run on ARM based tablets. They also introduce an App Store for Granny Smiths running Mac OS. Yes, they skipped Mac OS Phone XI 11 and Max OS Phone XII 12.
In case you’re wondering, Mac OS RT looks exactly like Mac OS XIII 13. It even uses the same App Store. The only difference is that it can’t run any of the apps that Mac OS XIII does that is not found in the App Store.
Apple introduces the Gala RT, a tablet that runs Mac OS RT. Apple has decided that it is time to reinvent the Granny Smith. The Gala RT is generally shown off as the tablet that can replace your laptop.
Despite the fact that Apple introduced a Mac App Store for both Mac OS XIII 13 and Mac OS RT, Apple’s own Granny Smith apps cannot be found in the new App Store. This is because Apple is implementing touchscreens in Mac OS XIII 13 and Mac OS RT; therefore, everything must be touch optimized. Apple’s iWork and iLife suites of apps are not yet touch optimized, nor is Final Cut Pro, Aperture, Xcode, or any of their other apps.
Four months after the introduction of Mac OS XIII 13, Mac OS Phone XIII 13, Mac OS RT, and the Gala RT, Apple discontinues the Granny Smith and introduces the Gala Pro. The Gala Pro is just like the Gala RT, except it runs “full” Mac OS XIII 13 and it’s much thicker and heavier.
Apple continues their strategy of making low end Granny Smiths. While there are clearly features missing from Mac OS Phone XIII 13, Apple enthusiasts are told that they will be fixed in the next coming update, Mac OS Phone XIII 13 Service Pack 1.
Mac OS XIII 13 and Mac OS RT show very low adoption rates. Mac OS RT was a failure because as it turns out, users didn’t want an exact clone of Mac OS XIII 13 but with half the functionality. Mac OS XIII 13 didn’t work out because as it turns out, Apple didn’t count on the fact that not everyone would go out and buy a touchscreen PC at the same time.
Apple maintains their strategy toward a touch-centric ecosystem with Mac OS XIII 13.1 and Mac OS RT 13.1. With strong competitors such as Android and Windows Phone (as Apple and Microsoft are trading places, let’s assume that Microsoft had a clear and streamlined vision), it is clear that mobile is the more important segment of the market; however, Apple does not release Mac OS Phone XIII 13.1 at the same time as Mac OS XIII 13.1 and Mac OS RT 13.1. A pattern is beginning to emerge that Apple is concentrating on desktop instead of mobile.
Later in the year, Apple finally releases Mac OS Phone XIII 13.1. It adds some important features to Mac OS Phone, including a notification center, Siri, and the ability to use photos in the background, features that Windows Phone and Android have had for years.
Ok, I think that’s enough. The point here is not to poke fun at Microsoft. The point here is to show what Microsoft would look like in a different context. We accept the constant rebranding, the constant being told to wait for things to get better, the constant changes in direction, etc. We accept these things because it’s what we have come to expect from Microsoft.
When you look at it from a different perspective, you can see how insane it sounds. Without going back and reading, tell me, what is a Granny Smith? What is a Gala? Surely, if you can’t remember something that changed so quickly throughout what you just read, average users across the world aren’t going to recognize the brand.
I say these things because I care. Millions around the world feel the same way. We want Windows 10 to be awesome. We’re not comfortable with Google being the top dog and we’re counting on Microsoft fixing that for us.
At the same time, we’re a little pissed off. Microsoft has more experience with phones and tablets than any other company on the market. It’s time to stop screwing around. It’s time to stop thinking that rebranding Bing apps to MSN apps is what is going to solve all of their problems. It’s time to present a clear vision and STICK TO IT.
As I mentioned, Microsoft has more experience with smart phones and tablets than any other company in the world. There is a reason they have the smallest market share of the “big three”. If they fail to present a clear vision and stick to it, they’re destined to fail.
Maybe next time I’ll write one about what would happen if Microsoft acted like Apple.