Preston Gralla

WWDC shows it's Microsoft, not Apple, who's got the mojo

June 02, 2014 4:23 PM EDT

As usual, the world's press breathlessly live-blogged from Apple's WWDC conference today. And has been usual in recent years, Apple's announcements were not particularly ground-breaking. It's just one more example of why Microsoft -- yes Microsoft -- has got the mojo these days, and Apple is looking old and stale.

I won't go into details about what was announced, but in general it's the same old: A somewhat improved new version of Mac OS X, iOS 8, a refreshed Apple Mail, an iCloud drive, and a revamped Safari. And there's also Healthkit, which is essentially a variation on ideas that Samsung, Microsoft, and Google have already pursued, and in Google's case, abandoned.

There's certainly nothing earth-shattering. And that's been the case at Apple for years. No equivalent of the iPod, iPhone, MacBook Air, or iPad. Without Steve Jobs, Apple is turning into just another technology company.

If you want to look for startling moves these days, you have to look to Microsoft. Since Satya Nadella took over as CEO, there's been more dramatic change in several months than there has been at the company for years. In the last few months Microsoft has committed to Android, allowing Nokia to manufacture and sell Android phones targeted at the developing world. It's announced that Windows will be available for free to makers of devices under nine inches. It's released Office for the iPad. And there's more as well.

And what has Apple done lately? Well, beyond today's garden-variety announcements, it's buying Beats Music for $3 billion. Analysts are mixed whether the move is a good one, but that's almost beside the point. Apple is buying Beats primarily for its streaming music service because it's being forced to play catch-up to Spotify and Pandora. But Apple in essence created the digital music market. It should have owned streaming music, and not be playing catch-up. Instead, it's spending $3 billion to buy its way in. That certainly hasn't been the Apple way in the past, and it's one more sign of how the company has lost its mojo. (Oh, and by the way, Microsoft has had a streaming music service, XBox Music, for almost two years.)

Will the trend of a resurgent Microsoft and a static Apple continue? There's no way to know. But right now, Microsoft's got the mojo, and Apple doesn't.