So I have listed the names of the world’s four biggest computer hardware / software vendors … or at least the best known, in various different ways. Apple and Microsoft have been the two leading providers of desktop operating systems for decades. Apple and Google are the two leading providers of mobile operating systems. Apple and Samsung are the two leading providers of mobile hardware. Apple is also a leading provider of computer hardware and rather than competing on an equal footing with one of the above, Apple competes with a range of providers making hardware to run Microsoft software. There are various pros and cons of choosing the services of one or other of these providers as each of them has a different focus and outlook. So let’s briefly sum up each of them one at a time.
APPLE is the longest established out of these four companies in its various fields. Apple was one of the first computer hardware manufacturers and established early dominance especially in business and education markets prior to the IBM PC / Microsoft platform era. The company also pioneered mass market GUI desktop environments but almost went to the wall in the mid 1990s due to rampant competition from the PC/Microsoft platform. Apple has since become a dominant player in handheld devices and continues to manufacture a range of premium desktop hardware integrated on the macOS platform. There is a lot of innovation in Apple hardware not the least in designing their own CPUs at the present time. Apple has built a following by building a loyal user base. Many people out there love Apple’s hardware because they are more focused on building their ecosystem than other companies.
GOOGLE is best known for one of their earliest products, the search engine. These days they have diversified primarily into gathering and processing gigantic volumes of personal data on an epic scale. One of the key sources of this data is their mobile platform, Android. Google appears to believe they have an inherent right to grab every piece of data they can ever collect on mobile devices and often in very opaque ways. Google in many ways is the Microsoft of the current era (see comment on MS below).
MICROSOFT is another early personal computing pioneer that got its leap forward by supplying a number of preferred operating systems for the IBM-PC-compatible platform (commonly known as Wintel but referred to here as PC/Microsoft ). The company’s major player stature led to antitrust investigations some decades back. MS has lost ground in personal computing as cloud offerings and alternative ecosystems from some of the other big players but has diversified into its own cloud in a major way in the commercial marketplace. MS is starting to emulate Google in its eagerness to grab user data from Windows 10 and its successors, and again this is very opaque.
SAMSUNG Is mostly a hardware manufacturer. They make a lot of mobile devices, and have pretty well cornered the market in many technological innovations that have helped them to become a major hardware player. At the same time they have been challenging some of the software players like MS and Google in some areas.
There is no single factor that anyone can use when they decide which provider’s product to use. All of these companies are major corporations with large capitalisations. If we have a strong antipathy to global capitalism we might consciously reject all of them and look for a small local or regional player to supply our requirements. I have done this as much as I possibly can by building my own computers and using FOSS operating systems on them. But in so doing I am inherently supporting Intel, another major hardware player not mentioned above. So there is no real out.
At this point looking for the lesser of many evils is the best possible option. At the moment I am leaning towards Apple because they make what appears to be a genuine effort to build a loyal user following. I strongly feel that most of the other companies, the people at the top making their billions is what stands out the most. Apple have come back as the underdog and given the premium niche they occupy in the marketplace, they have had to create loyalty and user engagement in a way that Microsoft and Google among others have long since lost sight of. One of the biggest negatives against Apple is their locked down hardware. Even for most of their desktop computers, you are paying top dollar for something that has no inherent ability to replace individual parts or be repaired easily. This hasn’t always been the case with Apple hardware, but has become more prevalent since they switched to their own proprietary chips instead of using other people’s. SSDs are particularly a time limited lifetime component and it’s unclear how much a SSD replacement will cost considering the whole main board has to be replaced instead of just one part. It would be enough to keep me from buying too much Apple hardware in the short term at least.
In short there are no straightforward answers to this conundrum. It’s largely a case of what works best for you.