© 2019 by iMarketology.

  • Roby Widjaja

What Can We Learn From Apple Vs Microsoft War in The Past?

Updated: Jul 20, 2019



“Learning from history can give us wisdom for living in the present and future”


Let’s time travel backward to many years ago, between the 1980s to 1990s…

There was a “war” between Apple and Microsoft in desktop PC Operating System Software market in those years.

Microsoft’s first few years success was highly leveraged by IBM. In 1981, IBM contracted Microsoft to develop Operating System ( OS ) Software for IBM PCs. Microsoft didn’t have the OS software at that time. Microsoft bought the OS Software from Seattle Computer Products, modified it, and delivered it to IBM. This OS Software was sold by IBM as IBM PC DOS. IBM PC DOS was also known as Microsoft DOS. Microsoft DOS was a text-based command line OS Software. Microsoft was the only company which offered OS, programming language, and application software for IBM PCs.

A few years later, there were many IBM PC Clones or IBM PC Compatible from many other PC manufacturers in the market. All of those PCs used Microsoft DOS as the OS software. In 1983, Microsoft’s revenue reached USD 55 million.

Read also: History of Microsoft

Read also: Facts About Microsoft

On the other side, Apple was the first which introduced Graphical User Interface ( GUI ) based OS Software by its product, Macintosh in 1984. Microsoft launched Microsoft Windows 1.0 in 1985 as the competitor of GUI OS Software from Apple.

There were two differences between Apple and Microsoft on its OS Software marketing strategy, which then makes a big difference on their market share later:

First, Microsoft only sold OS Software to many different PC manufacturers globally. It made Microsoft sold and distributed its OS Software easier and faster than Apple. Apple bundled its OS software and computer hardware together. There were no Apple Clones or Apple Compatible PCs at that time.


Second, Macintosh, both computer hardware and OS software, was sold for USD 2,495 per unit. Microsoft DOS was sold only for USD 40 per user license. The price of an IBM PC or an IBM PC Compatible hardware was around USD 1,500 per unit. The price difference has made both Macintosh and IBM PC ( and IBM PC Compatible ) reached different segment and target market in the desktop PC market. Then, the “war” of gaining market share in the Desktop PC market between Apple Vs. Microsoft began…


Apple’s Perfectionism Vs. Microsoft’s Vaporware

Simplicity, Minimalism, and Perfectionism were in the flesh and blood of Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. It has given “a soul” to all of Apple’s products and services until now. He cared too much on tiny little details during Apple’s products development phase. As a person who learned calligraphy so well, Steve Jobs combined both arts and computer science in all of Apple’s products and services. The perfectionism in Apple’s products development phase has made Apple’s products and services more expensive than its competitors. Perfectionism also makes Apple takes a too long time on its products development phase before Apple launches its products and services in the market.

On the other side, Microsoft applies Vaporware to its product development and marketing strategy. Microsoft announces its new under development products and services earlier than its competitors, launches it earlier in the market without being “perfect” on its products and services, and solves bugs or errors experienced by its users later gradually after products and services launching. Vaporware has helped Microsoft to gain the biggest market share in the market in almost all of its products and services than its competitors.


Apple’s Product Oriented Vs. Microsoft’s Customer Oriented

Apple is product oriented. Apple develops products or services first, then finds the right segment and target market for its products or services by its marketing strategy. By its products’ and services’ characters, Apple’s products and services are most liked and loved by premium users and creative industry workers ( such as graphic designers, movie makers, animators, etc. ).

One of Microsoft’s business strategies is “dominating the market”. It means Microsoft always pursues to gain the biggest market share in the market for all of its products and services. Microsoft focuses on dominating the market first and then makes its products and services are suitable for the targeted market. Microsoft’s products and services are most liked and loved by office workers and personal users.


Both Apple and Microsoft Are Winners in Different Ways Today

Let’s time travel forward back to today, 2019…

Read Also: Usage Share of Operating System

In 2019, the Microsoft Windows OS Software market share for desktop and notebook computer market is 87.56%. Apple’s market share in the same market is only 9.65%.

Read Also: At $1 Trillion, Apple is Bigger Than These Things

Read Also: Microsoft joins $1 trillion market cap club

Although market capitalization always changes by time, both Apple’s and Microsoft’s market capitalization has reached USD 1 Trillion in 2019.

Based on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2018 list, Apple brand is the first best global brands with USD 214+ billion brand value. Microsoft is the fourth-best global brands with USD 92 billion brand value.

Both Apple and Microsoft have different segment and target market for its products and services. Both of them are winners in their segment and target market.


Which one has the best marketing strategy between Apple Vs Microsoft?

Well, the answer can be different depends on your industry sector and target market.

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