Daring Fireball linked and commented on a couple Microsoft pieces recently, and while I largely agree with them I feel a bit of dog-piling going on. Awkwardly and surprisingly, I find myself wanting to defend Microsoft. This won’t go over well.
It’s likely that this recent bout of comparisons was spawned by the news that Apple’s Market Capitalization had surpassed Microsoft’s recently. That’s a tremendous vote of confidence in Apple’s potential to make money in the future, but the whims of speculative financial gambling don’t necessarily prove everything. Steve Jobs was wise enough to downplay the meaning of this, and technology journalists should be wary of giving it too much significance as well.
The elephant in the room that none of these pieces mention is Microsoft’s consistent ability to make ungodly amounts of money. The $15 Billion that Microsoft is banking every year should not be so quickly dismissed. I would probably argue even more strongly that Microsoft has lost it’s way, can’t innovate, and is structured to stay that way- but they are still making a lot of money. If they did get some better leadership, if they did significantly restructure, all that money could make big things possible.
I don’t think it will happen, but they’re a long way from even declining much less failing.
Microsoft’s Net Income versus Apple’s over the last 10 years via Wolfram Alpha.