Microsoft vs. Apple: Business Models Compared

Microsoft is a diversified company, still primarily making money with its productivity Windows Office package and that over the years has bought several other businesses (like LinkedIn, Bing, Xbox). Apple primarily makes money by selling iPhones, and other tech devices. Apple is less diversified and it’s primarily a product company, more skewed toward software in the last few years. Both companies are tech giants with dominant position in their own markets (Microsoft = Productivity, Apple = Smartphones).

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Major individual shareholders comprise co-founder Bill Gates, who stepped down from the company’s board in 2020. As of 2019, Gates still owned a stake of 103 million stocks, which accounted for 1.34% of the company’s ownership (worth over $21 billion in October 2020). Other individual shareholders comprise Satya Nadella, the company’s CEO, Brad Smith (former president), Jean-Philippe Courtois (EVP), and Amy Hood (former CFO).
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Samsung was founded in South Korea in 1938 by Lee Byung-Chul. Originally a trading company, it took Samsung 22 years to become the fully-fledged electronics company that most people recognize today. Indeed, the company is a leader in technological innovation through telecommunications, electronics, and home appliances.
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Apple is a product-based company fueled by platform business models (like Apple Store), in which sales still primarily come from the iPhone. However, the company has also transitioned toward a service company (with Apple Store, iTunes now called Apple Music) and as a wearable product company, which is the fastest-growing segment.
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Apple can leverage a strong consumer brand and set of successful products as a strength. Yet the company is still too reliant on the iPhone as a primary revenue stream. Though Apple is working to open up new markets as an opportunity, it has to make sure to sustain its stores’ sales.
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As of October 2019, Apple was worth over trillion dollars. Compared to other tech giants like Amazon, valued at over $869B, Google valued at 863B and Facebook valued at over $530 billion, Apple is primarily a product company, which made 63% of its revenues from the iPhone in 2018.
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When looking at the Apple Business Model, it is easy to assume that it is solely a product company, which sells devices that are beautifully crafted. However, there would have been no success for the Mac without its OS operating system. There would not have been iPod success without iTunes. And no success for iPhones without the Apple Store. What’s next for Apple’s success?
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Apple mission is “to bringing the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.” And in a manifesto dated 2009 Tim Cook set the vision specified as “We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing.”

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Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"