Over at Marketwatch, John Dvorak wrote a column titled, “Microsoft’s Business Model Is Done”. The primary reason he gives for this is the cost of computer parts has decreased to the point where Microsoft Windows and Office have become prohibitively expensive. And given the trend towards smaller, sub $400 netbooks fueled by the economic downturn, Dvorak believes many past Microsoft customers will be searching for low cost alternatives such as Linux along with one of many free Office alternatives such as Google Docs.
I tend to agree with a lot of what Dvorak says. It doesn’t make sense to spend $300 on a netbook then turn around and shell out $350 for Microsoft Office. But that’s just one of the problems Microsoft is currently facing. Dvorak touches on what I think is the larger issue and that is simplicity and near instant boot times of these inexpensive devices. The iPhone possesses both features.
I’ve had an iPhone for just over two weeks now and it’s changed how I access the internet and get work done. I use it to access and respond to most email. I do most of my RSS reading from it along with viewing my calendar and task list. In short, I’m spending a lot less time using Microsoft products to access the internet and get work done. Most of my time is now spent using Apple and Google products. Apple has raised the bar in what I expect from an ultra-portable computer, because that’s what the iPhone is: decent phone, fantastic little computer.
While I try to keep as few programs on my Windows PC (due to Windows rot) I love the tiny apps available for my iPhone. It takes a fair amount of patience to deal with the idiosyncrasies Windows tosses my way on a weekly basis. Sometimes it boots just fine. Other times it crashes or runs at a snails pace. The more programs I install it on, the slower it runs.
Yet the iPhone is a joy to use. It feels like it was created to suit how I work. It feels so very polished. Like someone spent the extra time to make sure the last 5% of the product was done right. Microsoft is creating products based on how I worked 10 years ago. The idea of spending 30 minutes to install Office and countless hours updating and patching it over time is an archaic model that must come to an end. And the registration and activation process for Windows is an absolute mess. Sometimes I feel like Microsoft is creating products for the IT Managers instead of consumers who shouldn’t have to learn how “Windows Genuine Advantage” works.
Having said that, I’m impressed with what I’ve seen in Windows 7. I just wish it were a free upgrade to all those who bought into the lost promises of Vista.
I’m not saying the iPhone will replace the PC. The PC is still the best device for writing more than a few paragraphs, and it provides the horsepower for processor and memory intensive applications. But the iPhone just might be my gateway drug to more Apple products in the same manner the iPod lead me to getting an iPhone.
And that should worry Microsoft. I stopped using Office in 2008 and I left Windows Mobile behind two weeks ago.
Could Windows be next?