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Apple fans: Microsoft is no longer the enemy

Brent Simmons | March 28, 2013
While I was visiting the Microsoft campus a few weeks ago--in suburban Redmond, just across Lake Washington from my beloved Seattle--I kept thinking of the old Vulcan proverb: "Only Nixon can go to China."

One of the guys who works on Windows Azure Mobile Services gave me a demo of its support for iOS.

What? Microsoft supporting iOS? What? That isn't the Microsoft (I thought) I knew.

Once I got over the shock, I expected that I'd have to write code in C# (a Microsoft language), that services would run behind IIS (a Microsoft webserver), and that I'd have to use Visual Studio (a Microsoft developer tool) on Windows, which I don't have. That would be typical Microsoft, right?

Instead: The code is JavaScript, the webserver is Node.js, and I can write code in any text editor. No Microsoft things. The company even released some related code as open source and put it on GitHub.

(Microsoft? Hello, are you feeling okay?)

In other words, Microsoft noticed the world outside Redmond, and it likes it.

And I like them for liking it. And it doesn't even hurt.

We've always been at war with Eastasia

If Microsoft isn't the enemy--if it's not a threat to our beautifully-designed way of life--then who is?

It would be easy to argue that Google is Apple's new enemy, because of Android, or that Samsung is, because it's behind the biggest threats to the iPhone and iPad.

But neither of those companies are threats to Apple. Apple is too big and successful to be threatened by any outside company, at least for the foreseeable future.

Instead, Apple's enemy is Apple itself. It must attract and retain talent. It needs to get strong where it's weak--particularly with syncing and online services.

It needs to retain that awesome balance between cautious incremental updates and the occasional, mind-blowing new.

It's not easy. But nobody does it better than Apple.

 

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