Microsoft’s “Windows monopoly” hasn’t been so much destroyed as rendered irrelevant. Thanks to the explosion of Internet-based cloud computing and smartphones, tablets, and other mobile gadgets, the once all-powerful platform of the desktop operating system has now been reduced to little more than a device driver. As long as your gadget can connect to the Internet and run some apps, it doesn’t matter what operating system you use.
Three charts really bring home the challenges that Microsoft and other PC-powered giants like Intel, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard face in adapting to this new Internet-driven world.
First, look at global device shipments. For the two decades through 2005, the personal computer was the only game in town, selling about 200 million units a year. But then smartphones and tablets came along. And now they dwarf the PC market.
This shift in personal computing device adoption, meanwhile, has radically diminished the power of the Windows operating system platform. As recently as three years ago, Microsoft’s Windows was still totally dominant — the platform ran 70% of personal computing devices.
Now, thanks to the rise of Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, Windows’ global share has been cut in half, to about 30%. More remarkably, Android is now a bigger platform than Windows.