Unique selling points: Apple, Google and Microsoft

Charles Arthur yesterday pondered what the USPs were of the big three technology giants of our day: Apple, Google and Microsoft (listed in alphabetical order, for those trying to read too much into things). He was after the companies’ USPs, as opposed to those of the products or services they offer. But naturally, these worlds overlap somewhat.

Here’s my attempt at a response.

Apple: its USP is its user experience, or UX to coin a slightly wanky abbreviation. Its products are beautiful to use—simple as that.

Google: its USP is its deep understanding of the relationship between users and web content. Whether this is search and results or targeted advertising, Google is able to connect the two better than anyone else.

Microsoft: its USP is fulfilling vital, generic functions better than anyone else. Word, Excel and PowerPoint merely represent replacements for lined paper, gridded paper and blank paper respectively, but the functions therein are so rich and deep-rooted that they will continue to dominate this space for some time to come.

I’d be interested in other people’s perspectives on this, as indeed would Charles, I expect.


One Response to “Unique selling points: Apple, Google and Microsoft”

  1. SLATFATF on December 12th, 2010 18:42

    I wonder whether these USPs are true or not. They are certainly ways to distinguish the companies and the products but are they USPs or are they emerging patterns applied to an evaluation of their product set when looking back. To be a USP would we not expect that the companies, looking forward said ‘hey lets be like …..’. Or did they go ahead an build stuff and when we look bad at common patterns we see certain things. To do so ignores the opposite of the USP. The UAP. Or unique annoyance point. For MAC is that it is expensive. For google it is control and for microsoft it is largely reliability and quality.

    Microsoft software is cheap but probably able to be cheap due to the locked in (less so now) user base from times when competition was weak. If you know you can sell billions you can invest hundreds of millions. Nobody else could do that. Quality did not matter.

    Apple, sold diddly squat in the beginning and so could not fight on price. So it went for quality.

    Google went for free but to make that pay, requires massive control.

    What I think is that the USP is starting, like the technology, to converge. MS losing its dominance has to up product quality. Apple, has to reduce its price. Both are heading that route. They will meet in the middle and Apple will win as it will be easier to reduce price for Apple than MS to build quality from their current position.

    Another view is brand.

    Microsoft is a technology company. Apple is a design company. Google is an information company.

    All 3 attempt to move into the other’s domain. Apple is doing better at price and google is doing well in technology. Both impact MS who have are losing on design and information side of things. MS has no hardware. Turns out people dont care about OS any more than they care about the firmware in their TV. Mac OS is so good and non techie it has become invisible. MS OS is still flaky and so is visible but in a bad way. MS has no hardware so will always be slave to the tin makers. Although it gets them a wider user base that will soon run down as Mac OS and Google OS start to eat into that market.

    Google runs the danger of going to far into geeky open source world. Nobody cares.

    If Apple controls too much in the information space (it is too controlling) and that does not work in the info space.

    Technology is going to disappear. That will be the trend. Less is more. The very existence of the term technology indicates it appears an end in itself and not a means to an end. People will start to focus on function and design. Apple will lead in that and google will supply the information to feed it. MS will ultimately go the way of the dodo unless they see that technology is not what its all about anymore.

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