Microsoft and Apple have been rivals for what seems like an eternity, each trying desperately to innovate faster than the other. However, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been particularly outspoken about competing products.
In June of 2012, Microsoft announced its brand new Surface tablet, and fire back from Apple was almost immediate. When asked about Apple’s own plan for a hybrid, Cook stated “Anything can be forced to converge. You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but you know those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user.”
‘It’s not a refrigerator and a toaster but it’s actually a two-in-one’
Years on, that statement has come back to bite the CEO, and Nadella isn’t letting him brush it under the rug:
“Three years ago, the two-in-one as a form factor was questioned,” he said to the Financial Review. “Does anybody need one? And now guess what, even our competition has decided that it’s not a refrigerator and a toaster but it’s actually a two-in-one.”
Of course, Nadella is referring to Apple’s release of the iPad Pro last year. The company is now marketing the device as a desktop capable tablet. However, despite the critical adverts, Satya’s point was primarily on culture difference.
According to the CEO, it’s Microsoft’s willingness to fail that makes it successful. “The key in any momentum we have is that you have to have some amount of boldness in taking risk, and knowing that you are not always going to get it right,” he said.
The Redmond giant now sees failures as a way to learn. Microsoft can implement any small advances in later products and produce better ones as a result. Rather than competing directly with rivals, the company is trying to create new areas.
“We recognize that we will have some hits and misses,” Nadella said. “In cricket they would say that what matters is your batting average, and to be able to have a good average, over 50, but you might score a couple of ducks along the way, and that’s OK.”
Ultimate Mobile Device
Microsoft’s biggest ‘duck’ is the Nokia smartphone line, but Nadella thinks they can make something from that too. The CEO says that a Surface Phone will not be coming – instead, the company wants to create something new.
“We don’t want to be driven by just envy of what others have, the question is, what can we bring? That’s where I look at any device form factor or any technology, even AI,” he said. “We will continue to be in the phone market not as defined by today’s market leaders, but by what it is that we can uniquely do in what is the most ultimate mobile device.”
Though the Nokia line only reaches a small audience today, Nadella believes it to be important. Microsoft is bringing productivity innovation through Continuum, and further technological advances in management and security.
Nobody can say when this ‘ultimate device’ will be ready, but it’s bound to push the boundaries of technology once more.