Michael Raynor is a consultant and and a very insightful author. He is the co-author of The Innovator’s Solution, which was written with Clayton Christensen as a follow-up to The Innovator’s Dilemma. Recently he published a new book called The Strategy Paradox where he tries explain why some companies fail despite crafting intelligent strategies and committing the necessary resources.
There is a very interesting and thought-provoking interview with Michael Raynor over Guy Kawasaki’s blog. The first question is “Why did Windows kick Macintosh’s butt?”, and here is what Raynor answered:
“Apple continued along the path that it had blazed with the Apple II and the Macintosh: very cool, very high-performing products built around a proprietary architecture of hardware-software integration. This was a perfectly reasonable bet to continue, but it happened to be the wrong one in the personal computer market of the late 1980’s. Like a broken clock, a strategy that never changes gets it right sometimes, though statistically it is wrong more often than not. The iPod is Apple’s latest hit, and it’s more of the same: a cool device built around a proprietary architecture. Apple’s clock hasn’t changed; it still reads twelve o’clock. It’s just that it happens to be noon again.
By contrast, Microsoft built a series of strategic options that positioned the company for success under a variety of different outcomes. Microsoft had what turned out to be a better strategy only because it didn’t commit itself to a single strategy. For example, when IBM began aggressively creating a competitor to MS-DOS and Windows, OS/2, Microsoft collaborated with IBM. The Windows development effort is evidence of Microsoft’s belief in GUI OS’s, but Microsoft was also getting a foothold in applications development for GUI-based systems by writing Excel and Word for…Apple! Corporate customers seemed to think that UNIX had a promising future, and so Microsoft was investing in UNIX too even as it released new versions of the by-then venerable menu-driven MS-DOS.”
You can read the whole interview here.