Apple's fortunes rise, Microsoft empire far from crumbling

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Apple's fortunes rise, Microsoft empire far from crumbling

Today's frenzy of stories over Apple's US$45 billion payout should not be confused with predictions of Microsoft's demise.

It's de rigueur at the moment to talk about how rich Apple is. Today's news that Apple is going to crack open its US$98 billion money chest and dish out billions to stockholders is just the icing on the cake. In the first quarter they sold more than 37 million iPhones. The new iPad has only been on the shelf for days and Apple has already sold more than 3 million.

The danger is that this tends to invite generalisations about Apple's success compared with its old rival Microsoft. For example, it's now often quoted that Apple is worth nearly twice as much as Microsoft.

It's always easy to jump on the bandwagon, but the reality is that the rise in Apple's fortunes hasn't yet resulted in Microsoft's empire crumbling.

Statistics can be read any way you want, but still, Microsoft is hardly doing it tough. On the face of it, several of Microsoft's divisions are doing well. Office 2010 was the fastest selling version, and the Xbox pushed the company's entertainment division to a 45% increase in revenue for the year to July 2011.

Microsoft posted a 23% increase in net income for the financial year which ended in July 2011. That totaled US$23.15 billion. Mind you, Windows 7 had its first birthday during that period.

Note though, that since then, money from Windows fell in the quarter ending December 31.

Keeping those Windows users on phones and tablets is now Microsoft's big challenge.

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