NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What distinguishes today's "device economy" from yesterday's "PC economy" is the tight control brands have over their ecosystems.
Back in the day, long before Y2K, this question seemed settled. Apple (AAPL - Get Report) failed as the sole-source supplier for the Macintosh because it could not scale production to meet demand. Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) won the market, despite being five years behind with its Windows software, because it gave its partners freedom.
That wasn't the Microsoft brand on your PC, and Microsoft didn't veto applications running on Windows. In fact, when Microsoft made its first tentative effort to control software markets, through its Internet Explorer browser, the U.S. Justice Department swatted it down, tying it up with lawyers who kept Microsoft from doing much of anything interesting for years and years.
China made Steve Jobs' revenge possible. Chinese OEMs could produce plenty of iPods, iPhones and iPads to meet demand, leaving Apple free not only to design as it wished, but to control what it designed.Now Apple calls the tune and everyone -- even Microsoft -- must dance to it. Microsoft's creation of