Who's NeXT?
January 14, 2012 5:56 AM   Subscribe

X is to Apple in 2012 as Apple was to Microsoft in 2000. Y is to Google in 2012 as Google was to Yahoo in 2000. Solve for X and Y.
posted by unSane to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think your 'equation' has a real answer. But the closest value, for x and y, is probably Microsoft.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:01 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your question almost assumes a tertiary player in two markets that really only have room for one big winner, and, in the case of computer OSs, is unlikely to be seen due to the shifting state of the computer hardware business.

But what the heck - assuming you understand that the replacement for floor wax may be a dessert topping, I'll play:

Google is (currently) to Apple in 2012 what Apple was to Microsoft in 2000 - a significantly successful gadfly to the dominant maker of slick portable devices (iPad, iPhone, etc). It's a trick question (or maybe a trick answer) because in 2000, we'd be looking at makers of desktop OS. I'd submit that Apple became a dominant player by deciding to be a dominant player in the NEXT THING, and be content with its minority position in the desktop biz. In so doing, ironically, they've increased desktop market share, I think, but that's increasingly a consolation prize anyway.

Y to Google in 2012? Perhaps Facebook. If you understand that the product all along was searchERs, not search results - eyeballs you can feed into the advertising machine and charge advertisers money for - Facebook has won game, set and match in social networking and Google is trying to get that off the ground, having made some embarassing goofs. Again, a paradigm shift, but I think a fair response to your question, and some real parallels as Google struggles to understand the next war because they're so dominant in the last one.

HOWEVER, Google may have found another place to be very successful. Apparently, there are people out there who still use these things, and even use them in some weird retro format like paper that only gets refreshed annually, at best. Google is rolling out significant local sales efforts to try to shovel the last bit of dirt on them. People quit reaching for a phone book a few years ago, but local businesses have been slow to figure this out. Google's going to help them. I personally am begging my boss to give me HALF the yellow pages budget from years gone by, drop the yellow books entirely, and let me go to town with it.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:34 AM on January 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

I might say Amazon for X - various Kindles, the Amazon Appstore, Amazon mp3, etc...

And I'd agree with Facebook for Y.
posted by papayaninja at 7:00 AM on January 14, 2012

I would say Google for X, and Facebook for Y. Neither is a perfect fit.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:49 AM on January 14, 2012

Here's the thing... Apple v. Microsoft in 2000 was a way different fight compared to that same battle today: tablets weren't a thing at all, laptops weren't nearly as huge as they are now, and mp3 players looked like this. Microsoft is now trying to play catch-up on the mobile/personal-devices front... I don't know who Apple will be trying to play catch-up to in the future. Which technologies will be huge by then? A decent prognostication would be that stuff will become more personal and more cloud-based, but (again) who knows? A better question is "which company on the Windows side will even attempt to create a stylish, consistent, reliable [and closed] ecosystem for personal computing devices?"

Not sure about Google. I use DuckDuckGo, but that isn't really a viable competitor at all.
posted by raihan_ at 8:51 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

If anyone could answer this definitively as an "equation," they'd never need to work again.
posted by spitbull at 9:49 AM on January 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Just to give a bit more clarity to this question: the introduction of OS X by Apple was the moment when it became clear to me that, over the long run, they were going to beat Microsoft. And it was clear from very early on that Google had won search for the (then) forseeable future. They both had competitive advantages based on innovation.

So I'm really looking for examples of nascent enterprises who are potentially in a position to drink the milkshakes of Apple and Google, particularly in the spaces of desktop computing and search (as opposed to reinventing the market entirely, which I think is unforseeable).
posted by unSane at 9:49 AM on January 14, 2012

Response by poster: If anyone could answer this definitively as an "equation," they'd never need to work again.

Which may possibly have something to do with why I asked it!
posted by unSane at 9:50 AM on January 14, 2012

rsk has a solid answer. If you are looking for alternatives to the single proveyor Apple has become, then Android (Google) is it. With their acquisition of Motorola's Mobile Hardware, the pattents that accompany that aquisition, and the rise of the tablet, they are in the the only position to challenge Apple on a mobile architecture front. In that manner, it is a question of open development vs. closed development as to what drives personal behavior and preference. On the Google side, Facebook has risen to a point where they rival google on usage, but they do not have the breadth of services behind them. Oddly, Bing has forged some interesting partnerships and has liscenced/whored themselves out as a company to have a fair amount of utility and usage. Plus, Microsoft has theshould diversity of services which can keep it semi relevant. In that manner, I see the slow erosion of Facebook from the top spot as something else will replace it (see Friendster and myspace). I don't think that it is Google+ - we're talking a paradigm shift that I'm not sure of... honestly I'd probably guess it will be.a unification of online video with social media - be it a rotten tomatoes personal review crossed with status updates and a Hulu selection of online video and exclusive content... (Substitute YouTube and Netflix and / or your personal favorite that video / social / review service). I would also say that Microsoft's new version of sharepoint provides an interesting view of intranets - its amazing that it hasn't built an INTERNET-lite version to effectively customize the outerworld...

Really, what will drive the future is big data analytics. The company that seemelssly pulls your usage across *every* form of social media is the one that wins the future.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:04 AM on January 14, 2012

Holy hell, mobile interface and mobile captcha doesn't beat the speed and accuracy of me on a real keyboard and fullthe fledged browser - yet. There is some oddity in the way it inserts some words. In other words, pardon the typos.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:07 AM on January 14, 2012

the introduction of OS X by Apple was the moment when it became clear to me

In that case you should already never need to work again, no?

In fact the greater bulk of Apple's financial success is due to iPods, iTunes, iPhones and iPads, which were not examples of drinking Microsoft's milkshake, but the kind of "reinventing the market entirely" which you, probably rightly, consider unforeseeable.

iPods and Google had one thing going for them that would-be replacements don't. In 2000 most people neither had an MP3 player, nor were they online, and there was no incumbent that owned the market, the mindshare and the ecosystem around them. Yahoo was relatively big, but everything was still up for grabs.

If a company overtakes Apple on Apple's existing turf the story will likely be more like the history of GM / Toyota than Microsoft / Apple. And the name of the company could be Samsung, Amazon, Asus or some other contender that buyers might today consider cheaper-but-inferior, but which over a period of ten, twenty, thirty years might come to be seen as just way-better-value.

This may well happen because often enough with companies huge financial success goes hand in hand with a) thinking you can screw the customer with high prices forever and b) assuming that how you've always done things is the one-true-way that shall always and forever succeed. There's many a company that's been held up as a paragon in its day that's succumbed to these things after a period of time.

As for doing unto Google as Google did unto Yahoo.... that would imply a breakthrough in the quality of search results. I don't know where that's going to come from, but there might be work going on in a startup or university lab right now that'll form the basis of it. But you can bet that Google are watching those startups and labs closely, and more likely than not will buy them up if they look promising.
posted by philipy at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2012

as opposed to reinventing the market entirely, which I think is unforeseeable

Why? That's almost always the way it works. You don't build a better broom, you make a vacuum cleaner. You can almost never beat an intrenched player at their own game; it's much better to change the game. Google>Yahoo is actually the odd event, and largely happened because Yahoo was asleep at the switch in their core business.
posted by randomkeystrike at 3:39 PM on January 14, 2012

entrenched. dammit.
posted by randomkeystrike at 3:39 PM on January 14, 2012

X = Google, Y = Apple

Seriously though, I bought Apple in the late 90s and held onto it because they no longer looked like they were going to die AND I thought that consumer "computing" was far from realizing its potential and Apple was the only player who had anywhere close to a vision that could get there.

Most of Microsoft's revenue then, and now, comes from businesses. Apple has some presence in that space, but to the extent they've "beaten" Microsoft, they did it by doing a better job than Microsoft at filling a need that had previously been filled by consumer electronics companies, music stores and, well, Nokia.

Google and Yahoo, on the other hand, were largely playing in the same space: Being a front door to the web for consumers, and selling those consumers to advertisers (or connecting them with sellers), though Google (and Amazon's) growth probably also came at the expense of E-Bay.

I'm not convinced that a decade will find Google and Apple will be sitting as pretty as they seem to be today, but if you are looking for where there is a lot of money to be made, I wouldn't focus too much on it coming at the expense of those two. There are plenty of other big players in the world who might loose their milkshakes, look to: Mobile carriers, financial services, health care for just a few possibilities.
posted by Good Brain at 11:52 PM on January 14, 2012

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