When we talk about the desktop and laptop computer market we typically break it down into two categories, which are the platforms upon which the desktop and laptop computer products exist. The two platforms are known as Macintosh and Wintel. While Macintosh is solely owned by Apple and today is the combination of OS X and Apple’s hardware, Wintel is a combination of Microsoft Windows and hardware from several companies like HP and Lenovo.
Ironically, while the “tel” portion of Wintel represents the Intel processor in the computers that run Windows, Apple also uses Intel processors in their desktop and laptop computers.
Several platforms also make up the emerging personal computing (or what others may call the mobile computing) market, although for the moment only four are the most relevant: iOS (Apple), Android (Google), Windows Phone (Microsoft), and Blackberry (RIM). If you are going to follow what I claim is the new and real personal computing market these are the four platforms and companies to keep your eye on.
Apple transformed itself from a computer company (up until January 2007 it was known as Apple Computer Inc. but changed its name to Apple, Inc.) to a user electronics company. Apple challenges the status quo of the electronics and computer industry by making products that have the absolute best user experience.
Google exists to make it easier to find information on the Internet, and it makes money when people use the Internet and see advertising that they sell. Consequently, Google is motivated to make it easy for people to use the Internet so that they stay connected. Android exists to insure that the majority of smartphones and tablets have the best access to the Google products on the Internet.
Microsoft exists to sell software, although it is by far the most diversified of these four companies and frankly the reason why Microsoft exists is very muddy. The reason why Microsoft made Windows Phone is to remain relevant. I think Microsoft would like to think itself as a user experience company much like Apple, but user experience is not at the core of why Microsoft exists. Microsoft’s goal is to have as many products running their software with the Windows brand as possible because it makes money from the licensing of that software.
RIM can actually be considered the most focused of these four primary platforms of the new personal computing. Originally RIM existed to provide the best mobile messaging experience, and did so by selling devices that had the best portable keyboards and wireless network connectivity. Unfortunately, it appears the downfall of RIM may be due to leadership unable to redefine why the company exists nor have they been able to keep their original reason for existing relevant. Right now, like the “traditional” computer companies before it, RIM exists to sell as many smartphones as possible.