Apple iPhone 5
Apple iPhone 5
Apple's iPhone 5 is major issue for Microsoft. The software giant has been trying for the last couple of years to regain lost share in the smartphone market. But because Apple iOS products are so popular, it's exceedingly difficult for Microsoft to catch up. Windows Phone 8 is a fine step forward, but the devices running it have no ability to match Apple's iPhone 5.
The iPad popularized tablets. And nowadays, Apple is selling millions each quarter. Microsoft, meanwhile, hasn't been able to make a dent in the tablet market. It's trying to do that with the recently launched Surface, but due to its sub-par application support and high pricing, Microsoft's tablet can't match the iPad.
Google is perhaps Microsoft's biggest and most enduring threat in this roundup, and Google Search stands at the center of that. Search allowed it to expand its advertising empire, increase its email market share and, in the process, hurt Internet Explorer in the browser market. In other words, it's Microsoft's Web-based nightmare.
Cloud-Based Office Productivity Suites
Although Office is still the dominant force in the desktop productivity market, the platform is being confronted by an increasing number of cloud-based suites with designs on taking it down. Chief among those products is Google Docs. But there are also services from Zoho and others. Look for those suites to become even stronger challenges to Office in the coming years.
Samsung Galaxy S III
The Samsung Galaxy S III is perhaps the best reason Android is still popular in the smartphone market. The device, which is selling extremely well, is a test case for what Android-based devices can deliver in the smartphone market. What's worse for Microsoft, it's a test case on why customers should buy an Android handset, rather than an underpowered alternative running Windows Phone.
Speaking of Android, it's important to point out that the operating system is a major threat to Microsoft. Like Microsoft, Google is trying to attract hardware with its mobile operating system. And so far, Android is winning that battle. The PC market is more mobile than ever. Desktop PCs, where Windows has always dominated, are fading in importance. Enterprises will remain a Windows stronghold for years to come. But Android offers a strong alternative to Windows on all mobile platforms. Until Microsoft can turn the tide, it's in deep trouble in the mobile market.
Apple's MacBook Pro With Retina Display
The MacBook Pro with Retina display has become the standard by which all other laptops are judged. The computer is extremely lightweight and thin, and its display is second to none. Compared with Windows-based laptops, the MacBook Pro with Retina display is a winner. And that's a problem for Microsoft and Windows.
Chromebooks aren't selling all that well, but they might be a bigger threat to Microsoft than some think. Google seems committed to everything it can to make Chrome a success. With the right software strategy and solid notebooks, Chromebooks might just start to steal market share from Microsoft.
Nintendo Wii U
The Xbox 360 has become an increasingly important aspect of Microsoft's business. And now, the Wii U has launched with the goal of stealing consumers who would have otherwise chosen the Xbox 360. Whether Nintendo will be successful remains to be seen. But it's a product Microsoft must keep an eye on.
Although it might seem odd that Microsoft's own operating system would be included in a listing of products that threaten the company, Windows 8 could be a huge liability. The operating system is dramatically different from previous versions, and according to users, has an extremely steep learning curve. That could turn away enterprise customers—Microsoft's core market—and cause issues in the consumer space. If Windows 8 doesn't catch on, it'll be a massive problem for Microsoft and one of its core divisions.