Like so many of us these days, I have a smartphone and a tablet computer. They’re both made by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), though I made that choice seemingly by accident. A friend of mine who owns a manufacturing company had an iPad and was upgrading to an iPad2, so he offered to sell me his old one cheap. Wham! Apple user. When I got home and told my wife her response was, “Surely you didn’t buy just one, right?” Off to eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) for another. Wham! Apple household. Just that simple for a family that had only had Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) devices up until that point.
Still, I can’t say I’m sad about it. While I do find the company’s approach to software (particularly iTunes) a bit wearying at times, I can’t say I’m dissatisfied with it. I’ve never felt the lack of any particular functionality with my iPod, iPhone or iPad, and the gear seems to do what it is supposed to when I want it to. However, while I’m not a particular partisan for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) or any of its rivals, I know there are people out there who are very passionate about these choices.
One of the reasons I’m happy with my gear is the availability of apps. While many people slammed the recent Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) Z10 for not having sufficient apps available at launch (for the record, the company claims to have over 100,000 available), I can’t say that availability of apps has ever been a problem for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). In fact, as a recent article pointed out, Apple is sufficiently popular that its closed-society approach to apps has its direct rivals making apps for its products. That’s a real sign of Apple’s place in the hierarchy and its business model.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)
Google, of course, competes with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) for sales of apps at the Android store, for installs of its Android operating system and, to some extent, in terms of hardware on phones produced by Motorola. Still, Google makes special version of its apps available for the App Store. Heck, the version of Google Maps available for Apple is more updated than the one available for its own systems at the moment.
That’s not to say that Google isn’t a good investment. I’m just trying to show the power dynamic available between the two companies. One chose a closed environment and one an open one. There are strong arguments for an open-source society, but no one can say that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) isn’t making it work.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)
Now, I’m famously down on Amazon. You fine readers should know that up front. I believe that a 20 year old firm should be turning a real profit. It’s a mystery to me that the company’s share price remains so high even in the face of low (or no) profit and what has always looked to me like a 1999 dot-com business model.
Amazon is also one of the firms that has to kowtow to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s App Store and its 400 million plus users. Heck, on my iPad there’s a Kindle app. I only had to get it because my twelve-year-old wanted to read (and re-read) The Hunger Games, and it isn’t available through the App Store. That sort of content deal is how Amazon hopes to compete with Apple, but again, note that there’s no iBooks App for the Kindle, just the other way around.
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)
The Redmond-based Microsoft is an odd duck in this fight. Traditionally a software firm, Microsoft has made steps towards making more and better hardware over the years, most recently with the Surface tablet and the Windows 8 phone. It’ll be interesting to see how the company alters its policy about making apps available for the App Store if the new gear gets sufficient market penetration.
Microsoft already pushes back some against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s hegemony. It limits the availability of its signature product, MS-Office, to Windows phones and – rumors to the contrary – I see little reason to believe that will change. This is a company that really wants to knock Apple off its perch, even while it claims to be concentrating on Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY).
It’s really an interesting case study in how different companies can approach a problem and arrive at totally different solutions. With Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) maintaining its monolithic immobility on being open and sharing, Google fervently committed to the concept, and Microsoft is looking for a third way that includes growth in hardware sales. I wouldn’t be surprised if all three company’s approaches aren’t hybridized at some point in the next five years and some sort of compromise was reached.
The article Why Apple Is the Big Dog in the Pack originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Nate Wooley.
Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.