In fact, the writing on the wall in Waterloo (a town Jim Balsillie failed not once, but twice) was in indelible ink for quite some time. But the diehards argued BlackBerry's apparent security advantage would see RIM through. That nobody serious about mobile computing would risk using an iPhone.
Now we're told Microsoft's installed base, across its enterprise (and even consumer) products and services, is so massive and deeply entrenched it'll save the company from going the way, in some fashion, of BlackBerry.
While attempts by TheStreet's Anton Wahlman to position Google's (GOOG) Chromebook and Chrome OS as "better than" Windows and Mac continue to amuse me, he did make a salient point in his most recent installment:
You can give a Chromebook to grandma or your 3-year-old and you won't have to be on tech support standby. Give them the computer and you never hear from them again. No needing to spend Thanksgiving troubleshooting Cousin Griswold's laptop anymore.
So there's that part of the market. But I reckon Google (and Apple) can just as effectively go after a more demanding and tech-savvy segment with improving suites of software and services, debilitating Microsoft in the process.
Consider my line of thinking ... and, remember, we're talking about writing and walls here, not the it'll happen tomorrow here and now.
Google continues to find ways to get people to use its software and services. Though I can't say I approve of the hardware strategy associated with it, they're moving, slowly but surely, to becoming more than just Gmail. And, somewhat quietly, Apple continues to take steps to make its iWork productivity suite more attractive to existing Mac and iOS users as well as prospective customers.
I anticipate further aggressive action by both Google and Apple.
In fact, expect improvements in their products and attendant stepped up marketing, which will increase adoption by consumers. Just as they did with iPhones, employees will start taking Google Docs or Pages or some other straightforward, easy-to-use Google or Apple platform to work. Call it BYOS (bring your own software), which meshes nicely with the already complete shift to BYOD (bring your own device).
As these non-Windows choices gain traction, workers will demand that they stop merely supplementing enterprise activities, but dominate them. Just like employees tired of, and saw no need to carry around a BlackBerry and an iPhone all day, they'll tire of having Google Docs and MS Word on their desktop at the same time.
This trajectory of one potential reality cannot be lost on Google or Apple.
It makes no sense, say, for Apple to sell more devices (Macs and iOS) than all Windows PCs combined, yet allow Microsoft to keep dominating the software market. It's easier to switch hardware at this point. And, obviously, consumers as well as the enterprise continues to do that in droves. It's not quite as simple to back out of software, whether you're one really busy person or a humungous organization.
But it will happen because Microsoft's software -- pretty much across the board -- has become nothing but a problem. The Windows ecosystem, for instance, is a complete mess. And products such as Word and Excel have become less and less user-friendly with each iteration.
Apple and Google have the luxury of starting from simple. They've seen what Microsoft has done to the productivity environment for consumers and businesses -- make it increasingly less productive and much more annoying. So they can learn from these mistakes and build platforms people actually like to use. Just as we get a daily thrill out of using an iPhone, iPad or Macbook or, in Wahlman's world, a Chromebook or Android device.
--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.