Remember how totally dominant Microsoft was?

This graph charts history beautifully and is a great reminder of just how dominant Windows was in the 1990s and early 2000s. It’s also a reminder that Apple’s position isn’t as strong as it sometimes appears.

The other story of this era that isn’t shown on the chart is the explosion of unit sales, first from growth in PC and more recently from growth in mobile. PCs were shipping c10m units per quarter in the mid 1990s, peaking at around 100m per quarter five years ago before falling to c60m last quarter. Meanwhile iOS and Android have grown from nothing in 2007 to c400m per quarter. Overall that’s a 46x growth in the number of computers sold per quarter since 1995. And the computers have got a lot more powerful too.

No wonder a lot of great companies have been created.

  • There have been three great platform shifts – command line, GUI, mobile. Microsoft owned the first two and missed the third. Apple could have owned the third but they chose secrecy and high prices over platform openness. Within a few years Android’s market share will be in the 90’s.

    Android is a special case because of AOSP. AOSP is free for anyone to use. Amazon has used it to make their Fire devices without paying Google a dime. So note to Russians/French that think Google is being a monopolist — if you want to get rid of Google go build your own system on top of AOSP like Amazon did. Most devices in China (like Xiaomi) are also AOSP based since the Great Firewall blocks the Google services.

    The AOSP window is there and open, use it and stop complaining. Or just admit that Google can build better apps than you can and the customer is simply picking the better app.

    The Android situation is very different than the Microsoft monopoly. Microsoft used exclusionary contracts to keep all competitors out of the retail channels. Based on this and other crimes Microsoft totally deserved anti-trust penalties. Nothing similar to the Microsoft tactics exists in the Android world.