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Microsoft is the Anti-Apple

This week Microsoft posted a series of videos on YouTube clearly mocking Apple’s creative process. One of the actors is obviously supposed to be Jonathan Ive. Some have said the other bears a resemblance to Steve Jobs and that if that’s who they were mocking, it’s in poor taste. While Microsoft is no stranger to poor taste, I think they were mocking Tim Cook, not Steve Jobs.

However, this is not the first time Microsoft has done something like this. Remember the mock funeral they had for the iPhone when they announced Windows Phone 7? Steve Ballmer completely failed to see the iPhone juggernaut that was about to leave Microsoft’s mobile OS business in a distant third place. Seems more like sour grapes to me. What Microsoft needs at this point is some humility. They put these videos on YouTube and then took them down only after the reaction was not what they had hoped for.

Actions like this show just how broken and blind Microsoft is to the bleak reality they are facing, while also highlighting one of the important differences between Microsoft and Apple. Like many companies, Microsoft is afraid of change. Apple, OTOH, is afraid of stagnation. They require change to feel normal.

Is Tim Cook the right person to lead Apple? Time will tell. He was almost certainly the best choice to replace Steve Jobs. The last thing Apple needed was someone trying to be Steve Jobs. It’s obvious to me that Tim Cook is marching to his own drummer. Steve Ballmer’s “retirement”, OTOH, is long overdue. Stunts like these videos make it all too clear that what Microsoft really needs at this point is a leader with a new vision for the company that is radically different from the aging one they have today. But will Microsoft’s board be willing to take that kind of risk and will they recognize a visionary when they see one?

I’m not the first person to point this out but in many ways, Microsoft is the Anti-Apple. The companies could not be more different. Microsoft has been amazingly profitable and had a stranglehold on the personal computer industry for a long time. But now, they seem to be like a frog in a pot of water that doesn’t realize the temperature is steadily rising.