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Microsoft vs. Apple: Be Sexy in the Living Room

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Consider some numbers:

  • Microsoft (MSFT) says it sold 750,000 Xbox consoles during Black Friday week.

  • This "Getting in Bed With Gadgets" report claims that one in three smartphone owners would give up sex before their phones. Ninety percent of 18- to 29-year-olds sleep with their smartphones. And roughly half check their smartphone for no reason when they wake in the middle of the night.

While I would not give up sex for pretty much anything, I am guilty as charged on the other smartphone claims. I browsed some academic journal databases and found that smartphone addiction has become a meaningful area of study. So, while I do not put all of my weight behind the above-referenced study by Online Psychology Degree, it's definitely on to something. Sounds more than reasonable.

For as hard as I have been on Microsoft, I have given the company equal parts praise for its domination of the living room via Xbox. In fact, part of my criticism of the company is that it doesn't focus enough energy on the living room. Marketing. Integration. Development.

Stop trying to be a vixen in the bedroom where Apple (AAPL) obviously rules and focus your energy on extending that living room dominance.

Think about it. The PC is dying. Microsoft's Windows has a puny share of the tablet and smartphone markets, consumer and enterprise. It would take a major miracle for Microsoft to become even a competitive No. 3 to Apple and Android. It's just not going to happen.

Steve Ballmer needs to stop letting his ego get in the way of smart business decisions. He not only lost to Apple, he made a fool out of himself in the process. But that's in the past. It's time to drop the hollow competitiveness and move forward.

Cede control of the smartphone and tablet markets completely. And scale back your attempts with the PC. Don't fight the trend.

Microsoft should focus it's business in three areas:

  • The living room. That's where Microsoft is sexy. Take Xbox and market it as more than a gamer's toy. Make it the all-around family entertainment system. Microsoft is killing Apple in the living room, why put up this fight in the bedroom? Hit Apple where it's weak. It's getting nowhere fast with Apple TV. Exploit that weakness because it's a Microsoft strength.
  • The automobile. Apple is making strides here. Vehicle-integrated Siri is coming to some Chevrolet models soon. Expect Apple to cut more deals. But Microsoft can challenge a fast-moving Apple here. The company powers Ford's (F) excellent Sync product. It needs to invest heavily to own the motor vehicle.
  • Office. No words really necessary here.

You can accomplish these things by partnering with Apple, not waging a pathetic nonwar against it.

Drop the rhetoric. Admit that your mobile efforts have no chance. Wave the white flag. Reach out to Apple with Office for iOS, which Microsoft will do anyway. Give Apple the smartphone and tablet crown, but make sure every student, writer and business person pays whatever you'll charge to use Office on iPhone and iPad.

At the same time, continue to kick Apple's butt in the living room and expand that dominance to the car.

Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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