Apple vs. Microsoft vs. Linux: Good vs. Evil and Do You Really Care?

Rob Enderle

If you follow big companies closely, you will find they have moments where they do things that are amazing, and moments where you wonder what rock they crawled out from under.

 

Apple sucks at PR, but is blessed with one of the best marketing organizations on the planet and a group of fans that attack detractors like rabid dogs.

 

Microsoft has mixed PR (it uses three firms that are poorly coordinated). I sometimes wonder if it can spell "marketing,"and Microsoft has had the word "evil," as in "evil empire," associated with its name for nearly two decades. Yet it has nearly unmatched positional power in the tech industry.

 

Linux has no PR to speak of, and the marketing is almost non-existent (makes you wonder how all of us would stay in business if it was a Linux world -- who pays for the ads?). It is championed by fans that have been known to be even more rabid than the Apple fan base, although they have slowed over the years.

 

But people vote with their wallets. Apple in 2007 had a greater growth rate than Microsoft. Microsoft remained dominant overall, though Apple clearly schooled it in the consumer electronics space where Apple is an unmatched force. Linux got a number of design wins, but feels weaker at the end of 2007 than it did at the beginning. Solaris appears to be resurging. While it is really hard to get good Linux numbers, you can get Solaris numbers, and the implication is that the market may be pulling back from Linux a bit.


 

While there is a lot of coverage about Microsoft being evil and a surprising amount about Apple being evil, the folks saying Linux is evil basically all shut up in 2007. Yet that was the platform that appeared to take the hit. Weird, huh? (I think Microsoft's decision to stop attacking Linux probably hurt that platform more than anything it has ever done, but we'll leave that for another time.)

 

Does Evil Matter?

 

Here in the U.S., as we are ramping up to elections, some candidates appear to be incredibly (and surprisingly) honest and open, and others seem to manage their campaign and opinions based on what will get them votes. Their real opinions appear quite different from what they now present. By doing this, they seem to be moving up in the polls even though it should be obvious to everyone that they are being disingenuous. The voters care more about hearing what they want to hear than whether what they are hearing is truthful. This is true in both parties. Fortunately, none of them are on the list of truly evil people -- it would be nice if someone made the good side, though.

 

Candidates put up attack ads falsely accusing their opponents of crimes that weren't committed or taking things out of context. The result seems to favor them despite general feedback that we, in the U.S., don't like negative campaigning.

 

On the tech side, what is the Mac vs. PC campaign but a copy of this negative campaigning applied to products? And, you have to admit, it works. They are a heck of a lot more entertaining than most other ads, and that seems to matter more. We say we don't like attack campaigns, which we see as evil, yet we support both candidates and products that benefit from them.

 

Evil Doesn't Matter

 

I doubt most have really thought through what evil is. So far, I've been using it more as a brand than a concept. As a brand, in the context of the generation coming out of college, evil may actually have some positive connotations -- it may imply competitive spirit or a willingness to dispute authority. But, in the context of buying technology, people (both personally and from a corporate standpoint) don't seem to care that much.

 

Apple, which has Al Gore on its board, was one of the least "green" companies, according to Greenpeace (although this is changing) and put toxic chemicals that cause sterility in children into products that kids use. Yet it had a great year. Linux, which probably owns the alternative energy space as a platform, didn't do as well, and Microsoft's founder going off in a massive effort to save starving children seemed to have zero impact on that company's fortunes one way or the other.

 

When you buy a consumer electronics product, do you know or care that it was built by underpaid children in sweat shops? And if you did and stopped buying the product, wouldn't those same kids starve? The point is, I'm not sure we can tell what is evil or not. In trying to punish evil, we may actually punish the innocent victims of the evil (assuming we didn't get it wrong in the first place).

 

In the end, we can only do what we believe to be right and accept that we may be wrong from time to time. Evil is personal, and the only time the word has context is when it applies to something that is done to you. Even in that instance, yours may be a unique opinion.

 

By the way, if you want to have a little fun, here is a test to see if you are evil. If you test as evil, I hear Google is hiring and may need some balance.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 2, 2008 3:00 AM Richard Brandon Richard Brandon  says:
Here's another question: How many times can an "analyst" make predictions so bad that they are "not even wrong" and still be considered an expert? Reply
Jan 2, 2008 3:49 AM Roger Roger  says:
Ok, I admit it, I only read Rob Enderle's articles for entertainment value. Example 1: SCO Should Win www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1543531,00.asp , I knew more laughs where sure to follow, he hasn't disappointed... Example 2, this article: Linux got a number of design wins, but feels weaker at the end of 2007 than it did at the beginning vs While it is really hard to get good Linux numbers. I suppose feeling has all he got to go on. Example 1: www.groklaw.net , Example 2: Perhaps our favorite Principal Analyst doesn't know about Linux ASUS Eee PC, since it is all sold out, so clearly this didn't register on his Linux feeling scale this year... For more laughs check out Rob's thoughts on Vista just before it's release: www.technewsworld.com/story/AViuO5r1twGnhR/Windows-Vista-The-Final-Countdown-Begins.xhtml Reply
Jan 2, 2008 6:06 AM Groucho Marx Groucho Marx  says:
The only thing I can tell is "evil" is the putting forth of opinions from Rob "Never Right" Enderle under the guise of them being something from an expert. The truth is that if Enderle had been the head of the U.S. armed forces during WWII we'd all be speaking German. He's not evil, but he presents his errors and stupidity as if they were fact. The "evil" is the publication of what he presents.ITBusiness Edge should be embarrassed and ashamed for publishing his errors and giving them the false guise of accuracy. ITBusiness Edge's advertisers should think about putting their money into organizations that put out facts...or are at least accurate once or twice a year. Reply
Jan 2, 2008 7:41 AM Matt Matt  says:
Just read the windows vista final countdown begins. This guy has got it so completely wrong, its so funny. Whats more funny is that this guy is 'principle analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward looking emerging technology advisory firm - I dont think 'forward looking' is quite correct. LOL Reply
Jan 2, 2008 8:15 AM Eric Eric  says:
Give Rob some credit...he's clearly and consistently displayed his "expertise" in the area of poor analysis. There's something to be said for consistency. Reply
Jan 2, 2008 9:36 AM John Davis John Davis  says:
Mr Enderle, I just read your article.And your point is?John Davis Reply
Jan 2, 2008 9:44 AM John Davis John Davis  says:
One more point.Putting it simply, "evil" is destructive. There are companies that strive to produce products that people want and there are companies that survive by destroying the competition. There are many examples of Microsoft using the latter. That's probably why it's called, "The Evil Empire."John Davis Reply
Jan 2, 2008 11:19 AM Phred Phred  says:
Your link to Apple being Evil points to _A_ post from 2005.On a complaints site.Is that _really_ the best you can do? Or did you just do a Google search for "Apple" and "evil" and post the first hit? Reply
Jan 3, 2008 3:07 AM Cod Cod  says:
What a poorly written rant. If Mr Enderle does indeed hold the job titles mentioned in this "article", then I can't imagine many customers beating a path to their door.There is no factual information in this piece just conjecture and innuendo.The proposition that it is better to use starving children than not buying products from companies with zero morals beggars belief. I think this assertion expresses an in site into some Americans moral positions.This "article" should be used on university courses as an example of just how bad some Internet content can be. Reply
Jan 4, 2008 3:00 AM Bob Robertson Bob Robertson  says:
Rob, the answer to "who would pay the analysts?" is, well, you certainly wouldn't make any money. Without an advertising budget the size of Microsoft's, your petty meanderings wouldn't be worth subsidizing. Reply
Jan 4, 2008 4:16 AM joe joe  says:
This article is a poorly written disaster. It's so poorly written that I don't even know if I disagree with it or not. Reply
Jan 4, 2008 8:00 AM cybervegan cybervegan  says:
Where have you been, Bob?Just because you *want* what you say to be true, doesn't make it so. Always a great laugh though.I'm glad you're not a rocket scientist or a nuclear power station controller!For comedy value, you're priceless, but you take yourself too seriously.-cybervegan Reply
Jan 4, 2008 8:52 AM yftooch yftooch  says:
well, i've read tha article about vista, and as someone that just bought a new laptop with vista premium must admit that while it looks quite great it is a big step backwords for the computer user.not only ms took some great features out (firewire networking e.g) thy want to tell you what you can and what you can not do with the computer you bought for a lot of money!i tried to install firewall and then it probably blocked some vista spy engine and i was told that my vista copy is not legal and i couldn't use my computer.after i succeeded in uninstalling the fw everything was ok.what the h__l??? Reply
Jan 5, 2008 5:33 AM Tim Tim  says:
2007 was a bad year for Linux was it?The Asus eee has sold 350 000 units all running LinuxDell now offer Linux pre-installed and have sold tens of thousands of units in just a few months.OLPC which is based on Linux was launched and is a real successGoogle, Microsoft's biggest nemesis, launched their "g-phone" API and it is based on Linux, not CE or MacOSWalmart sold Linux PCs so fast they couldn't restock fast enoughBoth Red Hat and Novel have had boom yearsThe SCO case is as good as deadVista appears to have been a flopThe list goes on and on, 2007 was probably the best year ever for Linux and will probably go down as the year that the tide started to turn of the penguin.My New Year message to ITBusinessEdge is - teach your correspondents how to conduct research before you accept an article from them, because Rob Enderle has managed to make your publication look very amateurish indeed! Reply
Jan 6, 2008 10:33 AM Anonymous Anonymous  says:
gates has robbed computer users since the beginning, no donations he makes will ever absolve him for his sins. Support Linux and stop buying products from Microsoft, that includes xboxes and Halo. Microsoft is a criminal organization with some powerful ties in the U.S. Reply
Jan 7, 2008 3:08 AM AB AB  says:
What's this article all about? Someone rambling in his sleep? Or someone taking his readers for a ride and wasting their 10 minutes? Reply
Jan 10, 2008 2:26 AM Marc F. Wilson Marc F. Wilson  says:
Linux powers millions of web servers across the planet.Linux requires very little in regards to system spec - Windows seems to require a complete system overhaul every time a new release is launched.And it still has certain security holes which only get fixed about 7 years later when Microsoft discovers that the bug is still resident in the latest version of Windows, now compare this to Linux: everything from the GNU foundation or published under the GPL license can be obtained as source code so that everyone and anyone can view and alter the source code if they find a certain bug and that user can then post their bug fixes. If your going to start arguing that this is a flaw and, that a hacker can actually post something to create a back door - think again! It actually makes the system more secure since every posting gets screened so that it can be tested if it's not immediately spotted that the fix has got a deliberate flaw.Also, because Linux is **FREE** to install and use, it doesn't generate any excess which it can then use for advertising whereas, Microsoft charges 44 to 370 for Windows Vista Home Basic and Windows Vista Ultimate versions respectively. Office 2007 starts at 72 for the Home and Student version and 404 for Office 2007 Professional. Think of all the add campaigns the extra 326 for the Ultimate version of Vista and the 332 from Office could help fund! It's no wonder that if your a small business, Linux is highly recommended and, once you get used to Linux, you wont want to switch back to Windows! Reply
Jan 13, 2008 11:09 AM Arnold L. Johnson Arnold L. Johnson  says:
The truth is that Microsoft, Apple and Linux do not share the same evils. And people have their own ideas as to what is evil and what is not. Microsoft wants to inject itself into the technology to influence, control and then dominate. Apple wants to own the technology and sell you rights to use it. Linux is evil because it is not like Microsoft or Apple. Gates and Jobs grew up together and Torvalds is an arrogant outsider, not from America. In this technology war, I have done Microsoft for years, still can not afford Apple (after all this time) and am quite impressed with Linux. Been using Linux for 10 years with no ill effects.I think just for the heck of it, the press should put out "The Linux Story" to inform average folk that the whole world does not evolve around Jobs and Gates. Inform us, don't insult us. Reply
Sep 25, 2008 9:13 AM Mayank Mayank  says:
Some people these days believe everything what Microsoft is doing is Evil, But I believe they are not the only one, Apple, Google are no exceptions. Reply

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