As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

Summary: The latest real-world data on web usage confirms that Microsoft's once-dominant position in the world of personal computing is crumbling. Microsoft's share of the web dropped below a key level for the first time this year, and Apple is dominating the mobile web. That makes Windows 8 a big and risky bet.

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After nearly a decade, Microsoft’s reign as a monopoly is over.

The consent decree in U.S. v. Microsoft expired last month, officially removing Microsoft from antitrust scrutiny by the United States Department of Justice. And the latest real-world data on web usage confirms that Microsoft’s once-dominant position in the world of personal computing is crumbling.

For the past four years, I’ve collected semi-annual snapshots of web usage from Net Market Share. The data for the first half of 2011 tell an ominous story for Microsoft. See for yourself:

Data provided by > Net Market Share

For the first time since I’ve been recording this data, Microsoft’s share of web usage has dropped below the 90% mark—to 88.88% in April 2011.

That’s a reflection of the decline of the traditional PC and the increasing importance of mobile devices. People aren’t abandoning Windows for other traditional operating systems—OS X usage is flat, too, and desktop Linux still can’t crack the 1% level.

No, people are turning to mobile devices to do tasks that used to require a PC, and the iPad has been the biggest success in that role. In just over a year, it has grown from a microscopic market share to nearly 1% of all web traffic. And the iPhone continues to capture share as well, increasing from 0.53% to 1.23% over the past year.

Thanks to the potent one-two punch of the iPad and the iPhone, Apple continues to roll:

Data provided by > Net Market Share

When I looked at this data six months ago, I asked, “Are mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad taking over tasks that used to be done by PCs?” The answer is a resounding yes:

Data provided by > Net Market Share

By and large, these numbers don’t tell a great story for Microsoft. The company can take some small encouragement in the fact that the overall share for mobile devices is still small. That means it’s possible to overcome the late start. Android proved that a newcomer can make a dent, going from zero (literally) to roughly a third of the share of iOS over the past two years.

Six months ago, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was asked to pick Microsoft’s riskiest bet. He answered, “The next version of Windows.”

Now that we’ve seen demos of Windows 8, it’s clear what he meant. With Windows 8, Microsoft is unifying its user experience across an entire range of devices, including traditional PCs, ARM-based tablets, smartphones, and the Xbox 360. The stakes are incredibly high, and there’s really only one chance to get it right. if Windows 8 flops on phones and tablets, Microsoft’s future is very dim indeed.

Related:

* Methodology: Net Market Share publishes snapshots of PC usage based on data from 160 million visits per month to its large collection of sites (the exact methodology is here). Its monthly reports on operating system versions contain a wealth of detailed information about even the most obscure OSes, and they’ve tracked the performance of mobile platforms consistently for the past four years. To compile the charts in this series of posts, I recorded data from the Operating System Market Share reports for desktop and mobile OSes at six-month intervals beginning in October 2007.

Topics: Software, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Windows

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  • RE: As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

    I'll add my 2 cents worth here and I am a new owner of a Windows 7 phone and pretty happy with the exception of no Skype and QIK but with Mango, perhaps that will come, but my priorities were security, privacy and then apps, in that order specifically. It's a good phone by all means.

    http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2011/06/cellphone-died-this-weekmy-new-phone-is.html
    MedicalQuack
    • RE: As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

      @MedicalQuack Fantastic Phone isn't it? I have one also, absolutely love the experience and polish.
      jessiethe3rd
    • Delete me

      @MedicalQuack
      SpikeyMike
    • If security was your top priority...

      @MedicalQuack ... Why oh why would you select a phone running a Microsoft OS? Windows CE (Predecessor of Windows Phone 7) was vulnerable due to flaws in OS design. Microsoft has a history of designing flawed operating systems. People select Microsoft in spite of security, not for security.
      SpikeyMike
      • RE: As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

        @SpikeyMike Exactly!!!!
        rpollard@...
      • RE: As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

        @SpikeyMike hhhahaha apple troll guess who talking look at iphone many glitched and flaws. So how big brother steve jobs tracking your every move you make? Windows phone 7 wins again
        ipadsucks
      • RE: As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

        @SpikeyMike
        I'll tell you why I bought one. I use my phone for work I don't need another playtoy. I'm also not interested in what someone else thinks is cool, nor would I buy one because the masses think its cool, that's for sheep. I have Word Excel Powerpoint, Adobe Acrobat and Outlook on my phone. These are must haves in my business and the phone works flawlessly rather than the flawed system you refer too.

        I have to wonder what you base your comments on, fear, lack of experiance with a Windows phone, or someone elses opinion that probably hasn't used one either!
        Eddy-ICUR12
      • RE: As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

        @Eddy-ICUR12 ... you contradicted yourself. You dont NEED it for work, you want it. The Phone Form Factor is too small for work. If you NEED a device to do remote work from accessing/editing documents screen sharing of remote computers for troubleshooting you need a Laptop with a Network Connection (Broadband Card). Use the Phone Voice, PIM functions etc... Getting into a OS flame war is a waste of time.
        freethinkerinfl
      • RE: As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

        @Eddy-ICUR12<br><br>Why stop there. Why not put Auto CAD, Adobe Premiere Pro and Photoshop on there as well?<br><br>And don't forget the magnifying glass. :p
        ScorpioBlue
    • RE: As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

      @MedicalQuack

      WP7 is a great start for MS in the mobile sector. After watching a video of Windows 8 last week i'm convinced MS is on the right track. Sure they're late to the party but this gave them a chance to identify the weaknesses of Android and IOS. Once Nokia launches some phones things will get interesting.
      Rob.sharp
      • RE: As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

        @rob.sharp@... Yea great start. Did you notice it is version 7! In other words 7 previous chances to get it right and still not?
        LarsDennert
      • What's in a name..?

        @LarsDennert
        Wrong... Windows Phone 7 is NOT related to Windows Mobile 6.5 and prior versions. It's a complete reboot of the franchise.

        Think Apple and OSX - which was a complete reboot of the Mac OS (with an emulation layer to support backward compatibility).
        Wolfie2K3
      • RE: As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

        @LarsDennert I don't think iOS 5 means 5 previous changes to get it right too ....
        Voltus
      • RE: As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

        Eddy-ICUR12
        So if I understand your comment, If I'm part of the MS Camp, then I'm not a sheep, but if I disagree and use something from Apple that does work for me then I'm not really working, just playing with a toy? Hmmn..

        Tell me, do you ever get to go and work, it sounds to me that you'd be stuck in front of the mirror all day....
        T-Wrench
    • RE: As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

      @MedicalQuack You said it 100% right about windows phone 7 it is a great os phone and better than iphone not so secure phone due to the location tracker file sitting on all iphones and laggy and battery eater android.

      Wait when mango comes this Sept it going to for sure make windows phone even more productive than iphone or android. these 2 phones iphone and android are just all hype due to apps has most of the apps i see on these phones are useless. Windows phone 7 apps shows more of the important apps to use not some waste of time apps posted.
      ipadsucks
      • OMG... give it a rest... and get a clue..

        @ipadsucks.. take off the tinfoil hat.. it's been confirmed.. iOS was/is not tracking you it's logging locations of nearby cell base stations some of which could be 10s of kilometres away from your current location.. it also contains the location of bases stations from crowd sourced data i.e. some of the data may not even have been collected by your particular phone.. it can't be used to reliably track your location because it never actually logs YOUR location to begin with.. the data is used by the system to figure out your location in the absence of GPS (e.g. underground parking or in building) and much faster that GPS and with buring less battery than using GPS..
        doctorSpoc
      • RE: As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

        @ipadsucks

        All cellular phones 'track' you. They listen for tower base stations and measure signal strength constantly. They also register with the strongest at regular intervals. If they didn't, the phone service wouldn't work without a couple of minute wait when the phone starts up.

        iPhone and Android use that tracking to connect to map services to let you find where you are. the cell carriers have had that information for the past 20 years or so.

        If you use a cell phone, they know where you are, because they have to. It's part of how a cell phone works. Whether you know or have access to the information is up to you and your phone, but the carriers (and the Government if a warrant is served) will have it no matter what.
        YetAnotherBob
      • RE: As Microsoft's monopoly crumbles, its mobile future is crucial

        @ipadsucks
        Yeah, well we've certainly heard nothing biased from you before now have we......But maybe you will get to do some real work if and when Mango comes to life....Sheesh.....
        T-Wrench
  • Never said otherwise

    @rwalrond

    That's a fair point, but kind of outside the scope of this post. For Microsoft to make a dent, it has to become competitive first. And that is not guaranteed in the rapidly growing mobile segment.
    Ed Bott
    • Highlights the threat of monopolies

      That MS was able to dominate a market with it's relatively poor offerings highlights the power of the monopoly in IT markets where the network effect is so powerful.

      Alternatives reaching 10% is a milestone, it's a figure too large to be ignored. Content publishes must take it seriously, as we saw with firefox.

      Time will tell if MS can become competitive. Given their past failures and overreliance on their monopoly position i doubt it.
      Richard Flude