Friday Essential: Has Microsoft Replaced Apple As The New Innovator?

Tech companies have used innovation to set benchmarks higher than before, engaging in one of the biggest races to be the leader in this industry. Looking back at those famous launch events led by Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs and what followed in the years after, it is not hard to imagine why Apple is still considered to be the best. But could this claim be far-fetched?

Yesterday, Microsoft hosted one of the best launch events and unveiled two new devices combining experiences of a tab, a laptop, and phone and multitasking. Microsoft Surface Duo and Microsoft Surface Neo have finally happened. The “Microsoft Phone” everyone was so eager about will be hitting the market in 2020 with bundles of new mobile phone experiences.

How does that take Microsoft ahead in the innovation race? What earlier flaws it overcomes? What does it mean for the future? Hear it all loud!

Apple’s Dominance and Fall

Image Source: Yahoo

Since 2007, that is the launch of the iPhone, Apple has dominated the market, eventually taking over as the most prominent tech. company by revenue and market capitalization. Followed by iPads, the long line of MacBooks, and then upgrades of iPhone models, Apple gained huge popularity and expanded the userbase exponentially in the next four years. But then, Steve Jobs passed away, and since that time, Apple has never been the same as it was before. The company was once run by a visionary that was Jobs, but now it is run by businessmen, and that’s what Apple has become. A money-making tech. company expanding solely by virtue of the name Steve Jobs established years ago.

In the past six-to-eight years, Apple has unveiled more than five iPhone models, iPads, a new range of MacBooks, and numerous versions of its operating systems. But all it has done in these new launches are failed attempts at revamping designs; increasing the screen size of iPhones; and providing stylus with an iPad, a decision Jobs never would have approved of.

Image Source: TechRadar

The latest has been the iOS 13 update for iPhone models and the new iPhone 11 launch. Honestly, there isn’t an ounce of newness. Yes, the build quality and the durability of the hardware remains almost unparalleled. However, Apple has been failing at its own game. Its own promise that it always offers something new. And that is what consumers haven’t noticed yet. But if Apple doesn’t change its ways soon, Tim Cook may face the biggest regret of his career.

Where Microsoft Windows Phones Failed

Image Source: PC Mag

Well, Surface Duo and Surface Neo aren’t the first attempts of Microsoft at the phone business. But it utterly failed at it before, and there weren’t hopes of recovering from it. In 2011, Microsoft partnered with Nokia and launched the Nokia Lumia series of phones powered by Windows OS. Nokia Lumia series failed, and two years later, in 2014, Microsoft purchased Nokia and took the entire business in their own hands. The line of new Microsoft Windows phones was a short-term success, but the sales eventually dropped after 2014. Even rebranding of Windows phones and the removal of Nokia’s name didn’t do the job, ultimately leading Microsoft to shut down the entire business of Microsoft phones in 2017.

What went wrong? A lot of things? But the biggest mistake was to underestimate Google. At the time, Google was not new to the OS market but was in the early stages. Apple was going red-hot in the mobile phone business, making billions, and iOS was people’s first preference. Microsoft was crushing everyone else in the desktop business and trying to do the same with Microsoft phones. It thought of defeating Google’s Android, but it didn’t know the real value of Google, which was the Services. When Microsoft failed to strike a partnership with Google, Google cut it off all services like Maps, YouTube, Gmail, ultimately ripping it of almost all the apps familiar among audiences. That was the first blow.

Then came Windows 10. Yes, Microsoft was defeated by one of its own. The Windows phones worked on Windows Mobile 8.1 OS. Windows 8.1 for computers was already in its last stages when Microsoft bought the Lumia business. When Windows 10 for PCs was released, Android had already made its mark and left Microsoft far behind. There was no reason for consumers to switch, and 8.1 became an old name.

Thus, the lack of familiar services, as well as the failure to replace them or improve in any manner, lost Microsoft an entire venture. Even Bill Gates admitted later that it was his biggest mistake to not understand Google’s potential. But now, Microsoft is correcting that mistake.

Microsoft New Line of Dual-Screen Phones

Yesterday, Microsoft set a benchmark with the new Surface Neo and Surface Duo. And these two models are going to leave Apple awestruck. First, let see what features these models are offering:

  • Dual screens in both devices, with a 360-degree hinge. Both displays will support multi-tasking, making it easier to navigate two different applications at a time.
Image Source: Cnet
  • Surface Neo can be magnetically attached to a keyboard. The keyboard would be latched to 3/4th of one of the two screens.
  • The space left after the keyboard is attached would turn into a “Wonderbar,” which is an answer to Apple’s Touchbar. There is also a stylus if you don’t want to use the keyboard.
Image Source: Digital Trends
  • Duo would be your pocket phone, again with dual screens, 360-degree hinge, and multi-tasking features. It’s completely touch-based, offering gestures of all kinds to execute commands.
  • While Neo would continue to offer a computer-like experience with Windows 10X OS, Duo would run on Android, making it more appealing to the masses.

These new additions to Microsoft’s Surface family are going to be the best impressions of innovation in technology. Why? Read ahead.

Surface Duo and Surface Neo: Where Microsoft Did It Right?

I believe that Microsoft got three things entirely right, and they are enough to dethrone Apple for good:

Android Compatibility:

Image Source: The Register

The first is the acceptance of Google as the leader in mobile OS. Microsoft understood it and partnered with Google officially. Microsoft’s pocket-phone Surface Duo would run on Android and will offer all Google services and apps firsthand. This is likely to get better for Microsoft as an Android phone is expected to receive a better response than a new OS in the market. With this step, Microsoft has consumers’ support in advance.

The Design:

Image Source: Cnet

Foldable phones are not new in the market. LG made an attempt at it quite a while ago, and recently Samsung’s Galaxy Fold also made the news. But, Samsung failed in adhering to the promises. There were flaws in the technology. The durability of a foldable screen was questioned. The screen flickering and blackening was heavily reported by consumers. Microsoft solved it with the “Hinge.” It’s better to have a dual-screen phone, rather than having a foldable screen.

Firstly, it would intensify multi-tasking, thus improving the flow of work on different apps at the same time. Then they can be rotated sixty-degree, thanks to the hinge. And then, the screens in dual-screen phones are inside the folds. That ensures screen protection, and I’d always trade for that. Yes, there are a few drawbacks, like compromising in screen quality and having a gap between screens, but look at the upsides. Can you attach a magnetic keyboard on Samsung Galaxy fold like in Neo? No!

The Detailing:

Image Source: PC Mag

Apple has been concentrating on making upgrades to features; to the OS, as in iOS 13 update; and the “Face Lock.” With Neo and Duo, Microsoft has taken a risk. It had introduced the world to something never experienced before, which was common at Apple until Jobs served. With these two devices, Microsoft has taken a leap of faith in the hope that consumers would feel compelled to experience something new and fresh in terms of both quality and reliability.

The New Innovator

So, yes. Microsoft is the new innovator. Surface Neo and Surface Duo are the products designed to suffice both enterprise and personal use. It’s aesthetic, it fulfills consumer preferences, and new in design and tech., thus it’s innovative. It beats Apple as Apple has forgotten the basic principles of innovation. And Apple is nowhere near to admit this fact. If it had been accepting that, Johnny Ive, the leader of Apple’s design innovations, wouldn’t have left the company.

This industry requires changes, and Microsoft is ready with one. It’s a good thing it is taking time to do it right, and that’s why new Surfaces won’t launch until next year. But when this change hits the market, the impact will be felt back at Apple Spaceship. And it should be. I certainly hope Apple revives the Jobs era. But before that, it must learn to accept defeat and understand failure.

So, here is the new innovator in tech. business, and with the Surfaces, it’s going to make up to all the past mistakes in one go. After years of rumors, Microsoft is delivering its promise of a new Microsoft phone. I am hoping for it to be a blow to all the mobile phones and tablet designs there are and waiting to experience the change in hand.


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