Which Ecosystem Will Win? Apple or Microsoft?


I was talking with a friend this weekend about how exciting it is to see Microsoft and Apple competing in the ecosystem war.

The key difference seems to be focus:

  1. Microsoft is all about the corporate ecosystem

  2. Apple is all about the personal ecosystem

The question is, which can beat the other to filling in its weakness? Can Apple get corporate before Microsoft gets personal?

The thing is, Apple is already in the enterprise. Sort of.

Most big companies use Apple devices for corporate mobile phones. There really hasn’t been a good Microsoft mobile option, and Android is just a dumpster fire that nobody wants to touch on the corporate side.

So Apple has dominated there, with something like 95% marketshare among the Fortune 100.

But most companies are Microsoft shops. HEAVY Microsoft shops.

  • Active Directory

  • .NET

  • IIS

  • Exchange

  • Outlook

  • Office

  • Lync

  • SharePoint

Down the line, and with few exceptions, most enterprises are Microsoft-based…running Apple phones because there’s simply no alternative.

But what happens when Microsoft Phone catches up?

Surface is already getting penetration into the enterprise, and I don’t think it’ll be long before their phones do as well.

I like Microsoft’s mobile OS. I really do. Clean fonts. Clean interface.

There aren’t many apps, but I don’t have many apps on my Apple device either. The world of 1 Billion apps is Android’s world, and nobody cares about it.

There’s a massive diminishing return after you have your core 10-20 applications that you use daily.

This has Microsoft displacing Apple significantly in the corporate world within three years.

So who wins?

So the question is simple:

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Is the enterprise going to push into the home, or will the home push into the enterprise?

And let us not forget that Microsoft has a home hub as well with the Xbox and Kinect stuff.

So here’s a scary thought for Apple, imagined in the life of a regular person:

  1. At work they are in Microsoft products all day

  2. While on breaks they’re on their Microsoft phone

  3. They get home and the Xbox detects their Microsoft phone and activates the house according to preferences

  4. You can also ask Cortana to let you know if an important email comes in, take work Skype/Link calls on your TV, etc.

Scales, lights, coffee machines—they’ll all integrate as well through the Xbox hub, just like will happen with AppleTV.

It’s not as if Apple isn’t strong in the home as well. They are actually ahead of everyone there with AppleTV, AirPlay, and everything they’re starting with iBeacon.

But how long will that dominance last if Microsoft can solidify the enterprise and then add the convenience of having your work at home, while you play?

These next few years will be fascinating to watch.

Let me know in the comments how you think it’ll play out.


  1. Thanks to Sasa for helping flesh all of this out.