By Joseph Morrison
The tech world is largely focused on the competition between Apple (AAPL) and Google's (GOOG) Android, and the world has gone mobile; tablets and smartphones rule the day. "The PC is dead" is the major declaration, and Microsoft (MSFT) is going down with it. To quote Lee Corso, the great college football analyst, "Not so fast, my friend!"
Before we can delve further into this, we need to establish some premises. Firstly, the well-known and accepted premise that Microsoft owns the operating system business. As the most recent data illustrates, Microsoft still commands 84.7% of the market share of operating systems. Second, there will still be a long-run need for PCs. If for nothing else, there are industries that require a wired connection and the functionality of a desktop PC, such as an equities trader. I am not prepared to leave my positions to the mercy of Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, or the frailties of anything I can carry around and use. As long as there is a market for PCs, Microsoft will own that.
Not to mention that people will still use laptops if, for nothing else, having an actual keyboard is important to students, business people, and older-end users who cannot do well with touchscreens. Further evidence of that is the U.S. Department of Defense deciding to spend $617 million on Windows 8. If mobile computing was so proven, the DoD would be moving in that direction and away from Windows for PC. PCs and laptops are also used as the home base for the accessories like tablets and smartphones. Accessories sync and backup to the home, not the other way around.
By virtue of Windows 8 being a Microsoft product, it easily jumps the chasm in the technology adoption cycle and has thus far had greater sales Windows 7 at this point in its lifecycle. Its functionality as an operating system, however, is question is the topic of much debate among the technology community. There is one thing that most reviewers can unite over, and that is that Windows 8 is better on a touchscreen.
Lastly, one of the major reasons that Apple is able to retain customers at such a high rate is the Apple ecosystem. People love how seamless the transition is from their iPhone to their iPad to their MacBook. Once people get in the Apple ecosystem, 89% do not want to leave.
Microsoft is positioned to beat Apple at its own game. As stated earlier, Apple has an 89% customer retention and this largely due to ecosystem. No one argues that Apple does this well and is the innovator in this field. Apple has managed to do this with only a 14.23% market share in operating systems. Now that Windows 8 has been successful at adoption, and it has been remarked that Windows 8 is better for touchscreens, we can see the strategy that Microsoft is trying to employ. If people love the Apple ecosystem so much, and Microsoft can develop their own easy-to-use ecosystem, doesn't it make sense that with an 84.7% market share that Microsoft should be able to beat Apple at its own game?
So can Microsoft develop an ecosystem to do this? My answer is yes. The major gripe about Microsoft's mobile platforms now is the lack of apps. But that is rapidly changing. CEO Ballmer has been heavily focusing on bringing developers into the easy to use Microsoft development world, and this will result in the proliferation of apps - both native to the Microsoft platform as well as crossovers from iOS and Android.
As the criticism withers about the lack of apps and Microsoft 8 takes more and more of a hold in the PC world, it is my opinion that consumers will begin to see the opportunity to have the same type of ecosystem that Apple offers with their existing Microsoft PC's and will begin to buy in to Microsoft at the mobile level. If Microsoft is able to show consumers the ease of taking their existing Microsoft products and linking them to their Microsoft mobile devices and are able to offer this at a good value, I believe that Microsoft will emerge as the victor in the Apple versus Google battle.
Where Apple and Google have the advantages of being the major names in the smartphone market today, it is important to note that there are only 1 billion smartphone users in the world today and thus a lot more up for grabs. The criticism that Microsoft is getting in too late is unwarranted. It's not some start-up company that has to make a name. It's the firm that's been crushing the competition in the OS game for decades now, and this smartphone OS game is just starting. I'll put my money behind the firm that's proven it does the OS game better than anyone. I want Microsoft to the long side, as I see Microsoft coming out on top of this battle in the long run.
I like this stock to trade in an upward range through 2013 and into 2014 as Microsoft gains share in the mobile computing sector. At about the point on this chart where this stock will break the ascending triangle, just around in about April 2014, is about the same time that I project Microsoft to be realizing its potential in the mobile world. When it breaks, I like this stock to go to $37.13 by mid June 2014.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
Additional disclosure: Business relationship disclosure: The article has been written by Wall Street Trading, a group of junior market analysts. Wall Street Trading is not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). Wall Street Trading has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.