Mac Scope

Apple's Airbus, Microsoft's Boeing

Stephen Van Esch - 2001.06.27

The recent strong arm tactics that Microsoft has used lately has put their previous control efforts to shame. Microsoft aims to control as much content, software, and (by default) hardware as it can. This, I'm sure, is normal. Market dominance is the goal of all corporations.

However, their latest effort really oversteps the boundaries. Smart Tags allow Microsoft to kick independent web developers hard and where it hurts. If you're not up to speed on Smart Tags, there is plenty of reading material out there.

Microsoft is slowly coming to the point where people and companies will finally galvanize themselves to fight back. As their control creeps over the desktop, backend, and Web in general, things are pretty grim.

Now is the time for companies that, at most, ignore each other to start taking a serious look at forming alliances that will help them withstand the new onslaught from Microsoft.

An example of this can be found in the airline industry. For many years, Boeing was pretty much the only game in town for large jets. The Europeans decided that they wanted to play in the jet building market as well. However, no single company could possibly take on the hugely expensive task of building an airline manufacturer. So, the Europeans (with lots of tax breaks from their governments) form a new company called Airbus that they would manage jointly, with every participating country contributing money and resources to the final product.

This type of model (minus the government support) might be a solution for competing with Microsoft in the computer market. As it stands, no single company (with the possible exception of AOL) can hope to take on Microsoft in it's own space. A group of companies with a common goal ("Let's give Microsoft a run for its money!") would offer Microsoft some real competition.

Apple could easily play a leading role in this type of organization. While Sun and IBM might offer server hardware, and Linux/Unix could offer backend support, Apple could offer OS X as the OS for the new organization. Apple might even be able to handle the consumer arm of the organization with its spiffy hardware designs. Add hardware manufacturers to the pot and things would get really interesting.

Of course, this is just a pipe dream. All the organizations involved would have to give up some cherished control over their products to make something like this work properly. Apple, the freakiest control freak of the bunch, would hardly see any real gain in bringing Microsoft to heel. If the organization managed to do that, what would the next step be? World domination or a gradual fracturing of the companies similar to what happened to the Soviet Union?

The incentive to try something like this seems to be getting stronger every day, though.

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Stephen Van Esch is the founder and president of the E-learning Foundry, an online training resource for Mac users. Steve loves the Mac and is doubly bilingual, since he's also fluent in Windows and French.

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