The last time life was this good for Apple, the PowerBook was new and Windows 3.1 had yet to launch
The news that for the first time in 20 years, Apple’s quarterly net profit — $5.99 billion — has exceeded Microsoft’s — $5.23 billion — is remarkable for a couple of reasons. First, there’s the fact that the massive success of the iPad has pounded the market for consumer laptops and notebooks running Windows.
Consumer PC shipments dropped 8 percent in the quarter, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein said. Netbooks — the cheap laptops that became popular during the recession — plunged 40 percent, partially because of defections to tablet computers, he said.
When Steve Jobs debuted the iPad 15 months ago, critical appraisals were all over the map, from effusive to dismissive, but I don’t think even the most gaga fanboy predicted that in little more than year the tablet would have meaningfully reshaped the entire personal computing industry.
But the symbolism here is even more powerful. In 1991, Apple was still pumping out popular products — that year the company introduced its first serious laptop, the PowerBook 100, along with its high-end Quadra and the iconic-looking Mac Classic II.
Then, in April 1992, Microsoft released Windows 3.1 and brought the mouse and multitasking to the PC masses. And that was that. Apple’s attempt to sue Microsoft for coopting the “look and feel” of the Macintosh in earlier iterations of the Windows operating system failed miserably, and for most of the 1990s, the company was an also-ran. Die-hard Apple lovers still claimed aesthetic superiority over the commodified Windows-Intel nexus, but they were like yapping Chihuahuas — indefatigable and noisy but hardly dangerous. Microsoft proceeded to throw its weight across the entire industry, crushing its competitors and even shrugging off the best antitrust efforts of Bill Clinton’s Department of Justice.
And yet now the iPad and the iPhone rule supreme — where litigation failed, a superior design philosophy has triumphed, at least for now. It’s one of the most extraordinary stories in the history of personal computing.
More Related Stories
- Is the Environmental Defense Fund ruining environmentalism?
- Top 5 investigative videos of the week: "Winning" Afghanistan
- Jester clowns Westboro Baptist Church
- GOP: Party of crybabies
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Guantánamo prisoner on hunger strike cries for help on Twitter
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11