Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hegemony and verve

People who reading this blog probably agree with the following few statements:

* Microsoft dominated consumer and business computing from 1995-2005. They set standards and had first crack at any given media or software market. If something was not Windows-only, it was at least compatible with the relevant Microsoft offering.
Apple was marginalized in that time period, and often had to adjust its offerings to accommodate de facto standards in the wider market. Mac support was an afterthought for most companies, and keeping the Mac viable was Apple's burden.

* Microsoft is large and complacent, and attained dominance through imitation, relentless bullying, and business acumen.

* Apple made it in thin times by being fundamentally innovative and differentiated, and succeeds today, on a huge scale, for the same reasons.

* Microsoft is seen as uncool, a version behind, and so oriented to corporate needs they necessarily are not "the new."

* Apple is perceived as a hip alternative to the status quo.

Apple started its comeback with either the iMac or iPod. Certainly, the dot-com crash took the wind out of the Bondi-colored recovery, so start with the latter. Apple initially played defense, releasing a player and media store Mac-first, and for some while, Mac-only. This guaranteed Mac compatibility with a music player, and the projected (and eventual) standard in DRM. (Both areas were contended [poorly] by Microsoft, too.)

The iPhone was Apple on offense. Smartphones were a business-driven niche. Limited Mac-compatible options did not damage the platform all that much. Apple's offering was not Mac-related, but instead a move to compete in a new market. That it would be innovative was taken for granted. Apple delivered a product that met expectations, and has become a hegemon.

With the recent media attention focused on the Palm Pre, Apple may be in danger of losing its pole position. All that is required to push Apple from alternative to mediocre mainstream would be such a loss. Palm is a tiny company that may pack a gigantic mindshare punch. Apple should eliminate them any way they can.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I rec hydraulic despotism.
simple geopolitics:

Control the water, control the valley.
Control the valley, control the 'verve.'

Then, it is just a matter of "hearts and minds".