Last Updated Aug 18, 2011 11:27 AM EDT
Windows sales have been in decline for some time, which is bad news for Microsoft, because it and Office have been the company's main cash cows. But times change. Mobile grows like a weed and Microsoft has been fairly frozen out of the smartphone market. Macs continue to take a larger share of PC sales. What's Microsoft to do? Grab a percentage of the software sales for Windows machines, cutting out retailers, through a Windows 8 app store.
Window's future: a long, cold winter
PCs won't disappear tomorrow, but in the long run, their day is done. In the short run? Fueled by its success on the smartphone and tablet fronts, Apple continues to pull in new users for more of its product lines, including Macs:
- Apple took the top number of global mobile PC shipments last quarter, according to DisplaySearch.
- According to Gartner, even as PC sales fell in Europe, Apple gained. Modestly, to be sure, but still growing where PCs are shrinking.
- Apple has higher sales revenue than Lenovo in China.
Follow the money
What buoyed Microsoft in FY 2011 were Windows server and tools, Office, and games. But if the company wants to continue to grow, it needs more revenue. Windows 8 will give a big bump, but Microsoft wants to set the continuing baseline revenue higher, particularly if it can't sell as many copies of Windows 8 as it did of Windows 7.
Enter, Apple's idea of integrating an app store into Mac OS X. Apple wants both more revenue (it's hard to keep growing even at a quarter of the size it has reached) and extended control over all its users and the extended ecosystem of products and services.
Microsoft has traditionally been wary of such control because it has relied heavily on its many resellers. But as more people download software, the ability for those distribution partners, particularly those focused on consumers, to provide incremental sales keeps dropping.
Microsoft's plan won't be popular with the resellers, but the company may have come to a point where it can safely afford to ignore them. Given the many millions of Windows users, to even tap a small portion of potential software buyers could mean additional billions in revenue.
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