Apple may have surpassed Microsoft…

Fifteen years ago I said to the strategy director of a high-profile UK client that I could remake his brand to be like Apple. He said he knew which brand he’d rather his company resembled and it wasn’t Apple, it was Microsoft. News this week that Apple has surpassed Microsoft in value reminded me of that conversation.

Of course, the Apple success story will be subject to a lot of analysis. And with the relative decline of Microsoft’s fortunes its supporters, once overbearingly smug, now tend to sound a little shrill. Those of us who have been using and enjoying Apple products from the 68K days of course feel our judgement has finally been vindicated. We always knew Apple was cool. Now enough people know that to make it clear that Apple is also smart.

Let’s be clear about this. The products are great. The focus on the user experience is way better than anything MS has ever been able to offer. But the whole thing has a branded completeness, a gestalt, that MS has never managed to project.

If you care for Apple’s modern, minimalist, high-quality aesthetics MS can only make you feel dirty, and not in a good way. It’s the brand that has made the difference, as much as the strategic boldness and vision. The look, feel and values and the model of brand management which has allowed for so much ground-breaking innovation over the years, to the point where the whole company has been on an epic journey, from computer maker to become a major presence in entertainment retailing.

Steve Jobs, in the keynote to introduce the iPad, said Apple is now the world’s leading mobile devices company.

And Microsoft? They’re no longer the world’s leading anything company, it seems.

Keshen Teo, Pajama Consulting, by e-mail

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