Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, identified Amazon, Google and Alibaba as the major competitors of Microsoft during a dialogue with media companies. Amazon is there because of AWS which is industry-leading, and ahead of Microsoft Azure. Google G-Suite is eating into Microsoft Office solutions and Alibaba is a juggernaut dominating the Chinese part of the internet with Alibaba Cloud.
To its great good fortune, Microsoft several years ago hit on a replacement to its Windows franchise, the multi-faceted Azure cloud-services business that is No. 2 to Amazon’s market-leading product. (On Tuesday, Microsoft announced its latest cloud services win, signing Walgreens Boots to a multi-year deal.) Azure, in turn, is the center of Microsoft’s “intelligent edge” strategy: Every potential hit device and service leverages and feeds Azure, the company’s growth engine.
Nadella has pulled off the seemingly impossible in making Microsoft the feel-good company of the tech industry. Gone are the days of Steve Ballmer, when devices by competitors were four-letter words in Redmond, Wash. Microsoft now plays nice whenever possible. Nadella identifies only three primary competitors: Amazon, Google, and Alibaba. “All are aggregators with platform businesses,” he says. “We are a platform business with a small aggregation business.” (Asked about Alibaba, a cloud powerhouse in its home country, Nadella replied: “Anyone who is doing well in China can get outside it.”) (Fortune Newsletter)
Interestingly, Apple has moved on and away from Microsoft, as a competitor, as desktop computing fades along with Windows and Mac. But with Apple iOS mobile position insurmountable for Microsoft, the latter has given up there. Thinking that Apple was still a competitor would have been a big mistake for Microsoft. Microsoft does not see its future purely on Windows, and it has just acknowledged that with this disclosure.
But it does think it can still anchor a great future through Azure which is optimized around Windows. So, for Windows to have relevance in the future, Azure must be important today. So, that is where Amazon and Alibaba become competitors. Amazon AWS is industry-leading; Microsoft Azure must own territories to thrive.
On the applications space, I hinted on that few days ago where I reported that Google is already winning the future as schools and kids build on G-Suite. Simply, Windows is losing the future as Google has cornered the computing users of tomorrow with G-Suite for Education. Microsoft has to compete to win that space, and that is where the competition is headed. Without a share of that, Microsoft Office will be disrupted by Google solutions which are already delivered via the cloud.
It is simple: more kids will know about G-Suite applications, created by Google, than Microsoft solutions. Google has invested in schools and kids, and will reap the benefits: “Chromebooks [is] used by 30M students & educators worldwide with 40M Google Classroom users”.
When you see the tech giants investing tons of dollars in education and other community supports, on the surface, you might be tempted to believe it’s a form of CSR, but in reality, that’s not the case.
The giants are busy ‘indoctrinating’ kids, cornering future markets, and crushing competitions before the latter even start. If you don’t see the big picture, keep waiting to reap where you did not sow; you will be shocked when you realise that all the people you want to bring on board are already OWNED!
No one has ever lived in the future before, all the things about future play out in the present; there’s no place called future, just do what you have to do now.
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