Is Microsoft the Next IBM?

In the 1980s, IBM was the undisputed king of the personal computer space. Although they had a late start, the IBM PC quickly gained market dominance over competitors like Apple and RadioShack, landing on the desks and in the homes of thousands of people both in America and around the world. But today, IBM doesn’t make personal computers anymore, and they haven’t for nearly fifteen years. Today, IBM is known for their enterprise products, mainly selling mainframes and servers to businesses, with little to no consumer facing business practices, and less of a household name than ever before. In the 2020s, Microsoft is the undisputed king of the personal computer space, at least in terms of users, that is. With a market share of over 75% globally, they have near complete control over the desktop and laptop comuter industry, with their closest competitor, Apple, having a meager 10% market share in comparison. But recently, Microsoft has put more and more focus on their enterprise products, including Azure, a cloud computing platform much like those offered by Google, Amazon, and, of course, IBM. This shift is eerily similar to that of IBM’s in the early 2000s, with both seeing primarily consumer facing companies completely pivot and become business facing ones. IBM was forced to do this, as their operating system was vastly inferior to and lacked the user base of Microsoft’s Windows, as they had failed to hop on the train of graphical user interfaces on time. This is similar the difficulty Microsoft faces now, having failed in the mobile computing space with the Windows phone, which came to market far to late to pose any sort of threat to the well established iOS and Android platforms. If Microsoft continues to fail to keep up with the curve, they will be forced to rely on their most profitable products, their enterprise products, and if they do that then, like IBM, they will fade from public view, and eventually become just more than a footnote in the annals of technology history.

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