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By Greg Mills
In the title of this article, I am speaking of the Giant Electronics Firm, not the city by the same nickname. It seems incredible for those of use who took no end of ridicule over the year that we were "one of those": un-PC Apple computer, non-conformists.
We were told our computers were too expensive and that the end of Apple was in sight. Remember the statement, "I think Apple computers are easy to use, but they don't do anything since there isn't enough software for the platform."
We saw Microsoft deliberately sabotage PC software to not open documents on a Mac. We saw Microsoft dominate the market in both operating systems and business software that was so "standard" it was only by the grace of Gates that Apple survived at all.
Well, a new age has come upon us and the tables are turning. A number of issues caused this to happen. First, despite years of promises and billions of dollars spent on R&D, Vista was launched and a man made disaster swept through the tech world. People were furious and rightly so. Computers that were certified to run Vista didn't, features that were promised didn't work, computers froze, data were lost and Microsoft lost a lot of capitol.
This happened in Steve Ballmer's watch. Since Gates retired in 2000, Microsoft has lost half its market cap. If I was an investor in Microsoft, I would want Ballmer's head on a pike decorating the court yard of the Microsoft campus. Gates should forget retirement and save the company and let Ballmer do something less harmful.
Apple listens to its anti-trust lawyers as Apple is no longer an underdog but is taking a dominant position in the market. The defenses for anti-competitive practices are going to change as Apple is now in a position to monopolize things. Policies such as inclusion in the Apple App Store, negotiations with music companies, dealings with vendors, chip companies, acquisitions, stock options and really everything Apple does will be scrutinized more closely.
From a position of power, Apple can punish Adobe or other software companies only by use of policies that can't be construed as anti-competitive. Patent suits will continue to occupy an army of lawyers as everyone in the electronics market will seek to have a chunk of Apple.
One can only hope the spirit of Apple can survive success. Remember Google's motto about foing no evil? That mantra has been tested -- particularly since privacy issues still plague them in their success. While justice has been melted out and the tables turned, we can only pray that Apple does not become the new Microsoft.