Apple vs. Google vs. Microsoft: A look at the stacks

On the client computing front, it's shocking how much Apple, Microsoft and Google are starting to look alike. The real battle is in the cloud though.

Google, Apple and Microsoft are duking it out on so many fronts assessing them can be a bit overwhelming. Meanwhile, the three companies have different business models, but increasingly bridge the enterprise and consumer markets.

In the end, these three look like every other vendor---they're selling you a stack of stuff.

The comparison between the three companies was the crux of a presentation at the Gartner Symposium in Orlando. On Monday, we looked at Apple and Google and their enterprise potential. Add Microsoft in the mix and the cloud and client collision is obvious. In addition, Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility changes the client side equation. Why? Motorola puts Google into the tablet market and set-top box business.

Related: Google Apps for business: 0.5 percent of Google's revenue, says Gartner |   Apple's enterprise approach: Passive aggressive

Add it up and you have a stack like this:

The real stack battle comes in cloud services. On the cloud front, it's clear that the race is between Google and Microsoft on the consumer front. On the enterprise side, Microsoft has an ambitious cloud strategy.

Consider:

  • On the business and information front, Apple has iAd; Microsoft has AdCenter and Bing; and Google has AdSense. Advantage: Google.
  • On Saas, Apple has iTunes; Microsoft has CRM Online, Office 365 and Windows Live; and Google has Apps and Gmail. Advantage: Microsoft and Google. Apple's iTunes looks crowbarred into Gartner's presentation.
  • On platform as a service, Apple is unknown; Microsoft has Azure; and Google has App Engine. Advantage: Microsoft.
  • On infrastructure as a service, Apple has iCloud; Microsoft has Azure; and Google has nothing. Advantage: No one because Amazon Web Services has the infrastructure play.
  • On apps, Apple and Android blow Microsoft away.

Add it up and these stack snapshots are just a moment in time. The battle between Apple, Microsoft and Google is likely to run for decades.

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