Apple Just Killed Microsoft

BusinessWeek's list of the world's 10 most influential companies is out, and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) isn't on it. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) is. So is Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) .

Hear that? It's the jeers from the iGallery: "Thanks for playing, Mr. Softy, but everybody hated Vista. You no longer matter." These are the companies that do, says BusinessWeek:

  • Apple
  • Unilever
  • JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  )
  • Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  )
  • News Corp.  
  • Toyota (NYSE: TM  )
  • Saudi Aramco
  • Monsanto
  • Huawei
  • Google

Microsoft is instead crowned a "niche dominator," according to an article sidebar. "Despite years of antitrust battles, the Redmond (Wash.) giant still accounts for about 90% of computer operating systems," the plug reads.

How's that bad, again? Apple's Mac OS X is gaining ground, sure, but when it comes to who rules the PC roost, it's Windows. Maybe that doesn't matter; researcher iSuppli says that PC shipments are expected to rise 4.3% in 2009, down from 13% projected growth for this year.

Equally telling: Those following the Big 3 Techies in our 125,000-strong Motley Fool CAPS database, like BusinessWeek, tend to favor Apple more than either Microsoft or Google:

Metric

Microsoft

Apple

Google

CAPS stars (5 max)

***

****

***

Total ratings

12,268

21,004

13,949

Bullish ratings

10,484

19,423

11,486

Percent Bulls

85.4%

92.4%

82.3%

Bearish ratings

1,784

1,581

2,463

Percent Bears

14.5%

7.5%

17.7%

Bullish pitches

2,040

4,224

1,989

Bearish pitches

490

459

696

Note: Data current as of December 23, 2008.

CAPS investor FoolNewb best explains the bearish sentiment in this pitch from April:

I see no immediate upside for Microsoft outside of game and office software sales. They seem to be in panic mode if you ask me, as evidenced by their recent acquisition attempt of Yahoo. Google dominates search. IE is losing market share to Firefox, Safari, and Opera in the browser world. The Zune which is a nice Mp3 player will never be an iPod. It's that simple.

Fair enough. There's little hope for a Zune Phone, and cloud computing is enough of a threat that Mr. Softy has painted Windows a deep shade of Azure. But can we really say that Microsoft isn't one of the world's most influential? No. Here's why.

Battleground: Your living room
Microsoft is an emerging power in the battle for your entertainment dollars thanks to close ties with Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) and its Silverlight technology, which makes streaming more palatable. So much so that many leading content delivery networks have chosen to adopt it for delivering high-definition video over the Web.

You might say that Mr. Softy is embracing Netflix to extend the Xbox 360, transforming it into an all-in-one media hub. Neither the PlayStation nor the Wii have Netflix streaming as a feature, though the PS3 has a Blu-ray player. What do consumers prefer? On Black Friday, it was the Xbox over PS3.

And where's Apple rank when it comes to bigger-screen entertainment? 293rd, if you look at Apple TV's Amazon sales rank in electronics. Yeah, I know -- that's not fair. Apple is making huge strides in mobile entertainment via its App Store and the iPhone and iPod Touch. The battle for your palm is as important as the battle for your living room.

What matters is that neither battle is over. And in the living room, it's Microsoft -- not Apple, not Google -- that's allied with Netflix, arguably the market's most dangerous and best-positioned combatant. How's that for influence, BusinessWeek?

Pretty significant, I think, and I own shares of both Apple and Google. But that's also just one Fool's opinion. What's yours? Would you buy Microsoft at today's prices? Would you short it? Let us know by signing up for CAPS today. It's 100% free to participate.

Get your clicks with related Foolishness:

Apple, Amazon, and Netflix are Stock Advisor selections. Microsoft and Wal-Mart are Inside Value picks. Google is a Rule Breakers recommendation. JPMorgan Chase and Unilever are Income Investor picks. Try any of these Foolish services free for 30 days. There's no obligation to subscribe.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers team and had stock and options positions in Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out his portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is hanging mistletoe at Fool HQ.


Read/Post Comments (1) | Recommend This Article (7)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 25, 2008, at 3:19 AM, commentguy wrote:

    Download video & high bandwidth streaming video sucks!!!

    Download set top boxes and download portable players ( ie Blockbuster, Sling box, XBOX 360, Apple TV, VUDU, Hulu, PS3, Boxee, Silverlight, joost ) and high bandwidth streaming video ( ie Netflix ) are things of the past, only to be replaced by the technology used by service providers such as MyTVPAL ( www.mytvpal.com ).

    Service providers like MyTVPAL ( www.mytvpal.com ) offer 1080p instant blu-ray streaming video on demand and live tv over PC Player, set top box, and I think they will have a portable device out soon.

    Keep in mind also that P2P is on the way out because it uses to much bandwidth, both up and down, and is unstable. I?m refering to service providers such as VUDU ( a one trick pony ) and Joost, who latest foray into portable video on demand on the itouch / iphone is freezing, buffering, and providing a horrible user experience even on my 6mbps connection.

    Streaming video is a great addition for live tv an video on demand, but at the end of the day only those technology companies like Matrixstream ( www.matrixstream.com ) will be able to support the best quality over the best effort public internet when doing a triple play ( set top box, PC Player, and portable device ) because currently where Netflix requires 8mbps for 720p streaming, MyTVPAL ( www.mytvpal.com ) can support 720p streaming a 3mbps and 1080p blu-ray streaming at 6mbps.

    Keep the above in mind when considering the average person today in the United States and Canada has between 1.5 - 3.0Mbps. So While MyTVPAL ( www.mytvpal.com ) can service the majority of broadband users today in the United States and Canada in both 720p and 1080p today it will be years before Netflix can service a fraction of the broadband population in high definition instant video streaming.

    At the end of the Day service providers such as Netflix and Blockbuster will have evolve to provide a service like MyTVPAL or suffer the consequences of not providing low bandwidth, instant playing, 1080p blu-ray high definition platform that we?ve come to expect from MyTVPAL ( www.mytvpal.com ) on PC Player, set top box, and soon I would imagine, portable player.

    Comment Guy

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