Mac Office Threat : LUSENET : MS-DOJ : One Thread

Something is still bothering me about the alleged threat by Microsoft to abandon Mac Office. Assuming Professor Lessig was correct that this is a $200 million business for Microsoft, wouldn't another office suite jump right in and fill the void that Microsoft would leave? Surely, the potential revenues would be enough to entice some software company to develop for the Mac. So, it has to be that Mac Office is so important to Mac users that they would rather switch to a Windows machine than be left using another office suite on the Mac. Does this mean that the only redeeming quality of the Mac is that it runs Mac Office?

Aside from what this says about the quality of the features offered by the Mac, it raises another interesting question. Why just threaten to discontinue Mac Office? Why not actually discontinue it? If Mac users are going to start fleeing the Mac because it no longer has Mac Office, then where are they going to flee? Obviously, the overwhelming majority of them are going to Windows, where Office is available. This seems like the better option for Microsoft for two reasons. First, it should be more profitable. They get to sell their operating system software to all those Mac users in addition to selling them Office (which they were already purchasing). However, there was some discussion in class about Office for Windows being cheaper than Mac Office. Even if this is the case, there is still a second reason for Microsoft to abandon Mac Office. If all those Mac users move over to Windows, then Microsoft gets closer to its goal of 100% market share. Forget about IE and Java, because there will not be a need for cross platform development. There will be only one platform (obviously there are other operating systems out there, but this is at least a step in that direction).

So, here is the problem that I have. The threat makes no sense either way you look at it. Either some other company will fill the void left by Mac Office's departure (in which case Apple has nothing to fear), or the disappearance of Mac Office will drive all the Mac consumers to Windows (in which case Gates should have done this already). Since Microsoft has yet to pull out of the Mac market (a profitable move if Mac users will follow), it seems that the former must be true. It seems to me that Apple should have been able to see through this threat.

There is one final point that should be made. I suppose it is possible that Microsoft might think it is barred from discontinuing Mac Office if the suite is too much like a ski lift ticket. This might be a reason why Microsoft has not pulled out, even though it would be profitable to do so. However, even if this is the case the threat is still empty, since Microsoft can't drop Mac Office.

So, what am I missing?


-- Anonymous, November 17, 1998

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