Remember those old Apple commercials that portrayed Microsoft as an un-hip and clueless grown-up while Apple was portrayed as its very hip and clued-in rival? The ones that always started with “Hello, I’m a Mac... And I’m a PC”? Fast forward to now, have the times changed?
Those commercials were very effective. And back then, they weren't that far off the mark. Microsoft was where we got the products that we needed for work. Word, Excel, PowerPoint… Apple was the great innovator. It was the company that gave us the iPod, iTunes, and the iPhone. Back then, it was an “i” world! But maybe that’s changing now. Apple hasn't given us anything new and exciting in quite some time. Sure, they've updated the iPhone and the iPad, and introduced the iPad mini, but those products aren't new and innovative, they’re essentially, just more of the same. Microsoft, on the other hand, has given us Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, the Surface RT; and soon, they’ll give us the Surface Pro!
But quite frankly, until they launched Play, a new service that allows Xbox Live games to be played on Windows 8, I was beginning to wonder if that un-hip and clueless guy was still hanging around. The idea behind Play is to allow gamers to play their Xbox Live games on any of their Windows 8 devices. Gamers can start on one device, and pick up where they left off on another. There are only fifteen games available right now. This is a good first step. And if that un-hip and clueless guy has really left the building it might also be Microsoft’s first indication that they realize that tablets and smartphones are content driven devices, and that they can’t depend solely on developers to provide that content if they are serious about competing in the mobile arena.
Connectivity Is the Key
The obvious next step is system integration. Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone 8 are related, but they don’t always play well with each other. Most consumers are looking for an ecosystem that will allow them to start a project, play a game, listen to music, or watch a video, on one of their devices, and finish it on another, without having to jump through hoops to do it. They also want the ability to access documents, photos, music, and video content across all devices while storing them on one device or in the cloud. Connectivity is the Key!
What makes all of this so interesting, is that unlike it was back then, it’s Microsoft and not Apple that is in the best position to be innovative. Whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet, or a phone; like the Ring in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Microsoft is in the best position right now to unite them all! All it would take is vision and a change in corporate thinking.