Skip to main content

Facebook and Google are Apple and Microsoft of post-Web Tech rivalry

The Tech Geek world is quite dry and mundane to the outsider but for insiders this is filled with philosophical nuances and comparisons. In the recent years, Apple has become the cool company thanks to the iPod and iPad while Microsoft has lulled thanks to the development hell most of its products are going through.

However, reverse to the 80s and early 90s - Apple and Microsoft were two icons of the Tech world competing with each other and yet not directly competing with each other thanks to the divergent philosophies adopted by them. Apple believed (and still believes) in tight integration between Hardware & Software while Microsoft believes in decoupling Software from Hardware.

Macintosh computers differ from competing Windows systems in that a single company is responsible for both the operating system and the hardware on which it runs. Windows computers are made by dozens of different manufacturers, and Microsoft cannot control either the minimum baseline of the hardware, or the variety of components which may be included in a computer intended for Windows use. Apple, on the other hand, has complete control over the variety and range of Macintosh hardware
Source: Apple Differentiation Strategy |
While some OpenSource evangelists might kill me for saying this - but I consider the above  divergence between philosophies as that of - Open Systems and Close Systems - and Microsoft in this equation falls on the side of (hold your breath!) Open systems.

This might seem counter intuitive today given the widespread criticism M$ (sic) receives from Linux fans but this criticism is quite unfair given the fact that OpenSource philosophy which is embraced by Google (in Chrome or Android projects) became popular in the 90s. When Microsoft was in its prime competing headfirst with Apple and Big Blue IBM - OpenSource was in the cradle. More so, in the early days of the software industry - it was a hardware behemoths - the Big Blue IBM, Hewlett Packard, DEC - who ran their "proprietary" hardware stacks. In this context, the meaning of being "Open" was being open to run on any hardware stack. 

Microsoft chose the path of openness, while Apple chose to compete with the Big Corps with their own integrated hardware-software stack. This is similar to the strategies adopted by Google and Apple today in the Mobile OS market. Google chooses to build an open OS which runs on any hardware stack that prefers to run it - Samsung, LG, HTC et. al. Apple's iOS however, can only run on its own hardware. The Big Boys who are (rather were) being challenged here include Nokia and Motorola.

However, I digress - the moot point which I want to present is that the original philosophical distinction between Apple and Microsoft in the late 80s and early 90s is being reflected in the current tussle between Facebook and Google today in the online world.

Facebook is like a Mac - everything you want to do has be be walled within the Facebook garden: want to create your blog - Facebook calls it notes, want to create a microsite - Facebook calls it pages, want to create your Bio - Facebook calls it profile, want to chat - Facebook wants you to use internal chat. 

Contrast this with Google: want to blog - use blogger - everyone can see it logged in to Google or not, want to create microsite - use Google pages - again open website, want to create Bio - create Google profile - but it remains open to the world, want to chat - use GMail/ Google Talk - everyone can create an account without subscribing to other Google services.

The contrast is similar to that between Windows and Mac. If you need to use Keynote - buy a Mac, you need to use Safari - buy a Mac! Contrast this with Windows - you can use Office on Windows or a Mac, you can use Windows on any hardware stack.

Who will win the tussle? Read Next


  1. Good article. Your conception of open vs closed systems is quite spot-on. The next battle is surely in the cloud space and it is already heating up. Given more and more computation and storage is going to happen in cloud, cloud portability becomes a key issue. Partly because of lack of open software standard, Amazon, M$ and others are currently pretty much ruling this space. Hopefully that changes soon too, with the release of technologies such as OpenStack [1].



Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How will travel industry transform post-Covid

Unlike philosophers, journalists and teenagers, the world of entrepreneurship does not permit the luxury of gazing into a crystal ball to predict the future. An entrepreneur’s world is instead made of MVPs (Minimum Viable Product), A/B Tests, launching products, features or services and gauging / measuring their reception in the market to arrive at verifiable truths which can drive the business forward. Which is why I have never written about my musings or hypothesis about travel industry – we usually either seek customer feedback or launch an MVPised version and gather market feedback. However, with Covid-19 travel bans across the globe, the industry is currently stuck – while a lot of industry reports and journalistic conjectures are out, there’s no definitive answer to the way forward. Besides there is no way to test your hypothesis since even the traveller does not know what they will do when skies open. So, I decided to don my blogger hat and take the luxury of crystal gazing

हिंदी दिवस के उपलक्ष्य में एक ट्वीटमाला

A thread on Hindi Diwas; for the last few months I have been influencing my daughter to learn Hindi by telling her greatness & elegance of Hindi हिंदी दिवस के उपलक्ष्य में एक ट्वीटमाला; पिछले कुछ माह से मैं अपनी बेटी को हिंदी की महत्ता और लालित्य के बारे में समझा रहा हूँ| She is in Grade 2 and just started learning the Hindi alphabet and grammar.  वह कक्षा २ में है और अभी हिंदी वर्णमाला और व्याकरण के पहले पाठ पढ़ रही है|  Yesterday, she asked me why I think Hindi is a great language. Context being India has so many languages and our mother tongue is Marathi.  कल उसने मुझे पूछा कि मैं हिंदी को एक महानतम भाषा क्यों मानता हूँ - जबकी भारत में इतनी सारी भाषाएँ हैं और हमारी मातृभाषा मराठी है|  My answer - No doubt Hindi is a rich language in terms of literature, vocabulary, variety and its script Devnagiri is very scientific in nature...  मेरा उत्तर था की यद्यपी हिंदी साहित्य, शब्दावली, विविधता से परिपूर्ण हैं और उसकी प्रमुख लिपी देवनागिरी वैज्ञानिक है, ...  ... But then these virtues des

Learning from the Coromandel express accident

In a tragic incident that took place near the Bahanaga railway station in Odisha's Balasore district, a collision between the Coromandel Express and a goods train resulted in the deaths of 207 people, with over 900 others injured. The Bengaluru-Howrah superfast express was also involved in the accident. This devastating event serves as a stark reminder of the safety challenges faced by the Indian Railways.  While statistics may show a relatively low accident ratio per kilometer, it is crucial to consider the context: lower speeds, inadequate facilities, and a significantly higher passenger load compared to other parts of the world. Trains in India enjoy the same status as Airlines given the long distance travel is routinely popular. Given this scenario it is important that safety in rail travel is also given the same level of importance as in the airlines sector. The specifics of why this Accident happened such as technology or human failure may provide certain tactical cues but th