This is not the craziest thing I have read in the past two weeks or so. It actually makes more sense than all of the Apple-related bullshit that both Wired and Slashdot use pretty much to keep themselves afloat.
Many years ago, Apple was dying. Right as it was about to keel over, Steve Jobs was brought back into the company. One of the first things he did was make a pact with the devil: he took a nice chunk of a “loan” from Microsoft.
Everyone thought he was crazy, but he didn’t have a choice. As for Microsoft, they didn’t bother being covert about it: keeping Apple afloat would give them a paper “competitor” that could be used as defense the next time that the USDOJ tried to nail them for antitrust issues.
It worked pretty damn well for everyone. The technology market is so damn huge that Apple was able to rocket beyond any of our craziest dreams. Microsoft didn’t die. Google came out of nowhere and is also now a monster on its own.
Right now it would be impossible to prosecute Microsoft for any kind of antitrust, since they can claim that they are not the leaders in any of the markets that they pursue:
- They can claim that IE keeps losing ground to Firefox, Chrome and Safari.
- They can claim that Windows has stagnated due to Vista, and that the Windows 7 launch only managed to stop the freefall and “recovery” won’t be completed until at least Windows 8. I know, funny, but they are able to say this with a straight face.
- Apple totally owns digital music distribution, and Microsoft is not even a player in this market.
- Microsoft is doing fine with the Xbox 360, but Sony and Nintendo make for formidable opponents. Sony and Nintendo have absolutely NOTHING to complain about Microsoft’s activities within the gaming console market.
- Microsoft’s non-console related hardware offerings are pretty close to a niche market. They sure as hell don’t sell as many Zune devices as Apple sells iPods, and Logitech is not bitching about Microsoft selling keyboards and mice.
- Microsoft charges for almost all of their development technologies, server platforms, etc. Apple gives you all of their development tools for free, even if they are closed. Google only pushes open source development platforms, tools, etc. Even if Microsoft is ahead, they charge for so much that there simply anything an argument.
That’s a lot of insurance for $150 million. They could had easily spent more over the past decade in just lawyer fees and public relations spin doctors.
Now Microsoft is feeling a bit of the hurt, but they are not closing shop any time soon. Adobe, on the other hand, is in trouble. Apple has the resources and the resolve to stick to their guns about Flash players, Adobe simply can’t afford this fight. What Adobe is not thinking through is that Microsoft makes Silverlight, and that Microsoft is no longer in need to defend itself from hostile moves, like for example, crushing Adobe once and for all.