The Rivals: prospective title for a book about Microsoft, Apple and Google

Welcome to my little blog. I’m writing a book which has the loose title above (don’t worry, it’ll almost certainly change by the time it comes to be published). And I wondered if you’d like to help, in return for acknowledgements in the book itself.

Some obvious questions:
1) Who are you?

I’m Charles Arthur. I’m technology editor at The Guardian.

2) What’s the book really about, though?

It’s trying to examine the various battles that these three companies have fought, and continue to fight, in their various fields; each has won at least one (Microsoft beat Apple in personal computing, Apple beat Microsoft in iPods, Google beat Microsoft in search, and now Apple and Google are battling each other – and Microsoft – in smartphones. (At the moment you could say Google has the upper hand, judged by the number of phones running its Android platform sold this year. But is that the correct way to measure success? That’s the sort of question I’ll try to answer.)

3) What are you hoping to find out/demonstrate?

What the business processes and working practices are and were inside and outside those companies which led to their various successes and failures. Why did almost the same strategy lead to failure for Apple in PCs and success in iPods? Why didn’t Microsoft think search was important when Google did?

4) What do you want from us readers of this blog?

Some help, a little crowdsourcing, insights, advice, that sort of thing.

First, if you are or were an Apple, Microsoft or Google employee and have insights about the processes that led to any of these decisions, then I’d love to hear from you. You can remain as anonymous as you like; email me on Details of when and so on would all be helpful.

For non-ex-or-present employees at those places, your input is still helpful: for instance, there are lots of things where I might appreciate a fact-check, or a thought. I’ll try to post regularly here, and maybe invite commentary.

I do want to emphasise that I want this to be a book which will give insight into business practice, and give us the wider picture – so that when we’re trying to analyse whether a company with a plan is going to make a success of it, we can watch its various moves and say “well, this is like that failed strategy, but this is like that successful one.. so on balance…” It’s definitely *not* about “X is better than Y so nyaah”. I’ll probably just delete any comments like that.

And I think we can agree – can’t we? – that in this trio of companies we have the triumvurate: the focus on design, on management, on (software) engineering. If we can draw lessons from what they did, then we ought to be well set up for other things too.


About charlesarthur

Freelance journalist - technology, science, and so on. Author of "Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft and the battle for the internet".
This entry was posted in apple, business practice, ecosystem, google, microsoft, organisation and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Rivals: prospective title for a book about Microsoft, Apple and Google

  1. njr says:

    I’ve been taking it for granted that you know this, but just in case you don’t, Jim Naughtie (formerly the Guardian’s Political Editor) has written a book called The Rivals.

    It’s what I think of every time I see your blog posts. But I guess your tenure and Jim’s didn’t overlap, so it’s conceivable you wouldn’t know.

    • charlesarthur says:

      @njr – thanks, though it’s quite possible that the book (Book?) won’t have that name when it is published.

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