Is Microsoft Helping HTC File for Bankruptcy to Win the Fight Against Apple's iPad?
Microsoft's desire to rule the tablet market has inspired the company to make an unlikely move: it has banned HTC from joining the Windows 8 tablet party.
This, according to Bloomberg, can be blamed on a wide variety of things, including HTC's lackluster sales figures (its devices are anything but hot sellers) and its lack of experience in designing tablets.
If true, one could imagine that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is finally beginning to realize the importance of high-quality hardware manufacturing. After years of allowing Windows to be abused and annihilated by low-quality computers and low-quality manufacturers, Microsoft is finally taking a stance against lousy Windows-based products -- no doubt in response to the success of the iPad, which has just one manufacturer: Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). By limiting the number of manufacturers that can design a Windows 8 tablet at launch, Microsoft is in effect attempting to be more like the Mac maker.
A Return to Windows' Legacy
Up until recently, Windows was known as the OS to beat. It may have been flawed to no end, and it may have been hated by a large number of users, but it also found its way into more computers, more businesses, and more homes than any other operating system.
That level of power made Microsoft cocky. If you're number-one, why change? What possible reason could you have for trying harder?
Enter Apple, a company that got our attention with the iPod, created millions of new diehard fans with the iPhone, and spawned a new legacy with the iPad. As the iPhone grew in popularity, MacBook sales began to rise as well. Consumers began to replace their crappy Windows PCs with more durable Apple-made laptops. This, along with the success of the iPad, has cut into Windows' sales. Apple now has the power to threaten Windows' dominance. And that scares Microsoft.
Thus, Microsoft finally cares. And in caring about the future of its products, it was apparently forced to exclude manufacturers whose quality and sales potential are at best questionable.
The Detrimental Effects
What would our world be like if Microsoft was more like Apple?
For starters, we'd see fewer manufacturers in the computing industry. The first to go may very well be HTC, whose value has plummeted on lousy earnings results. HTC had initially made big bucks selling Android-based iPhone clones. But with the rise of Samsung (and its newfound dominance in smartphone manufacturing), consumers quickly abandoned competing products. In America, if your name isn't Apple or Samsung, you're doomed.
Microsoft has already pledged its support to Nokia (NYSE: NOK), and vice versa. Nokia may be a small fry in America, but it is still one of the world's largest producers of cell phones. We don't yet know if the company has what it takes to develop a stellar tablet. But Microsoft has other manufacturers -- such as Asus and Toshiba -- that are eager to rule that market.
Can HTC Survive?
Those who have used HTC products may respond swiftly by shouting, "No!" But the company isn't filing for bankruptcy just yet.
Unlike Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), HTC doesn't have a legion of blind loyalists who will eagerly buy every crappy product they release. Thus, HTC can no longer afford to stay the course. Rather, it must rise above the competition and develop a unique product that consumers actually care about.
That's a tall order for a company whose claim to fame is copying Apple and fueling the fire in the ongoing patent battle between the Mac maker and its many competitors.
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