Summary of Digital Wars

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Digital Wars book summary

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  • Overview
  • Background


Charles Arthur, an experienced technology writer and editor at the Guardian, draws on his experience covering the IT industry to report on the highs and lows of Apple, Google and Microsoft as they battled for dominance in consumer computing. By examining their struggles for supremacy in search engines, digital music, smartphones and tablets, Arthur demonstrates that the first company to market is not the one that ultimately reigns; instead, the race goes to the one that can provide an irresistible customer experience and still make a profit. As with all histories capturing events still in progress, each story by necessity ends with a “to be continued” feel that may quickly render the book out of date. However, getAbstract recommends it to students of history, technology and corporate success. And if you are reading this abstract on a tablet or phone, you will soon learn more about the myriad decisions that led to the device in your hand.

About the Author

As technology editor at the Guardian, Charles Arthur has covered all the combatants in Digital Wars. A speaker, writer and blogger, he regularly covers technology topics.


The Fight for Dominance, Segment by Segment

Microsoft, Apple and Google first shared the digital marketplace in 1998. Since that year, their history has featured one battle after another for dominance and the top position in specific market segments, notably search engines, digital music, smartphones and tablets. In 1998, Microsoft had the upper hand in the software market. This was due to founder Bill Gates’s specialized technical skills and personality. Apple founder Steve Jobs focused on users’ experience with his organization’s devices. Jobs was aiming to produce the best machines in a limited number of categories rather than emulating Microsoft’s wide reach. Google, which famously derives its name from misspelling a math term denoting an enormous sum, began when founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin explored the need for a search engine that would help users categorize and navigate the growing number of Internet resources.

“Microsoft Antitrust”

The first battle came in 2000, when the courts found Microsoft – under new CEO Steve Ballmer – guilty of using its Windows monopoly to extend its influence into other fields. The company ultimately “dodged a bullet...

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