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Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft and the Battle for the Internet [Paperback]

Charles Arthur
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Mar 2012

- Which of Apple, Google and Microsoft had an office with a "drawer of broken dreams" - and what (real) objects lay inside it?

- When did Microsoft have the chance to catch Google in making money from search - and who vetoed it?

- Why did Google test 40 shades of blue on its users?

- How long did outside developers wait before asking to write apps for Apple's iPhone after Steve Jobs announced it?

- Who said that Microsoft should have its own music player - and why did it fail?

The answers, and much more, can be found in this new book by Charles Arthur, technology editor of The Guardian newspaper of London.

Digital Wars starts in 1998, when the internet and computing business was about to be upended - by an antitrust case, a tiny start-up and a former giant rebuilding itself. It looks at what are now the three best-known tech companies, and through the voices of former and current staff examines their different strategies to try to win the battle to control the exploding network connecting the world. Microsoft was a giant - soon to become the highest-valued company in the world, while Apple was a minnow and Google just a startup. By February 10 2012, Apple was worth more ($462bn) than both Microsoft ($258bn) and Google ($198bn) combined. The chance had come from tumultuous battles between the three...

To win their battles...

Apple used design, the vertical model of controlling the hardware and software, and a relentless focus on the customer to the exclusion of others;

Microsoft depended on the high quality of its employees' programming skills and its monopolies in software to try to move into new markets - such as search and music;

Google focused on being quick, efficient, and using the power of data analysis - not human "taste" - to make decisions and get ahead of would-be rivals.

With exclusive information from interviews with people such as Don Norman, former VP of Apple Computer and Pieter Knook, former SVP of the Mobile Communications Business at Microsoft, and many more current and former staff of the three companies - including one person who has worked for all three - Arthur also addresses:

- what the inventors of the hard drive used in the iPod thought it would really be used for

- how Apple transformed the smartphone market

- which of Android or Apple that forced Microsoft to abandon Windows Mobile

- what happened to Microsoft's tablet plans

- and much more.

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Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft and the Battle for the Internet + Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?: Fiendish Puzzles and Impossible Interview Questions from the World's Top Companies
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Kogan Page (3 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749464135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749464134
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.7 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Charles Arthur is technology editor at the Guardian. An experienced journalist, he has also worked at the Independent and New Scientist - all adding up to over 25 years in technology and science journalism. He has met all the senior figures in the technology industry and has extensive experience of reporting on the activities of Apple, Google and Microsoft. He has interviewed Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on numerous occasions. Charles has a large following and regularly speaks, writes and blogs on all topics relating to technology.

Product Description


"A fascinating peek inside the three most important companies of the 21st century." (Barry Collins, PC Pro)

"Charles Arthur makes expert sense of the complex politics of the new digital world order in a truly compelling book that lifts the veil on the people - and the events - who have built the most important technology of our time." (Aleks Krotoski)

"Rarely do I enjoy books as much as Charles Arthur's new Digital Wars...this really excellent book builds on Arthur's journalistic work over the last 25 years, and combines deep insights about the evolution of these companies with fascinating interviews with people who have been involved from the inside in their evolution. Do get hold of a copy and read it." (Tim Unwin, Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) and UNESCO Chair in ICT4D at Royal Holloway, University of London)

Book Description

Digital Wars investigates Apple, Google, Microsoft and the battle for the internet. It reveals what to expect from the internet in the next five years, which company will ultimately be in the driving seat, and what the implications will be for us all.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wars for our Digital Souls 21 Mar 2013
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER
The last couple of decades, and the more recent years in particular, have seen a remarkable advances and achievements in all fields of consumer technology. Hardly a day passes without a news article about some new breakout gadget, website, or software being launched. The struggle in the market for the hearts and minds of the increasingly tech-savvy and interconnected users is assuming, with only a slight exaggeration, epic proportions. At stake are not only new markets and new product opportunities, but the very nature of how we live, work and interact with each other. And yet, at the core of these "digital wars" are just a handful of companies that exert an oversize influence on the rest of the tech sector. Three of these - Apple, Google, and Microsoft - have by now become the defining and dominant players, and this book explores their rise over the past fifteen years (or in the case of Microsoft a gradual decline and struggle for relevance).

There have been many books written about each one of these three tech giants, but this is the first one that I know of which explores their interactions and strategic maneuvers with the respect to the others. The book is written in a very accessible journalistic style, but it still manages to go in depth when needed explaining certain relevant technological terms and concepts. The author clearly understands the relevant technological trends and the ways that these companies have managed to capitalize on those - or not. Although I am a huge fan of technology and follow these companies and their products much more closely than the average person, this book was still able to provide me with a lot of new information and insights.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Biased and severely lacking depth 16 Mar 2014
As a regular reader of Charles articles elsewhere, I picked up the book with a certain trepidation.

Despite being a technology editor for a national newspaper, Charles appears to have little interest in Technology in general, just a very narrow focus which, without the checks and balances of a national newspaper to restrain him, turn this book in to a mish-mash as preconceived prejudices, factual inaccuracies and cherry-picked supporting data.

Some of the arguments he puts forward are simply absurd, a particular 'highlight' is the Post-PC section.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very readable history of the rise of the modern digital age and the three key players: Apple, Google and Microsoft!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a decent overview of some of the biggest events to happen across the digital space in the last 20 years focusing mostly on search and mobile and the three big Western players in the space. It's an interesting account and Arthur puts forward some interesting interpretations - tainted a little at the beginning by relying on Malcolm Gladwell as authoritative on personalities - applied seemingly at random through the narrative.

Well, it seems random partly because the narrative itself is quite random. Roughly chronological, it focuses on a couple of big themes (search and mobile), missed opportunities etc. It's basically a flimsy framework with some very interesting nuggets - many of which are already fairly widespread, eg in the Jobs biographies - attached, though Arthur's experience in tech journalism comes to the fore with several stories from his career lacing the narrative.

This is well-written and a good read. It does feel somewhat piecemeal and it's a shame, because this writing style along with deeper research and some further analytical thought could have made for a very good overview of digital as a whole (not focused on Microsoft, Google and Apple) over the last couple of decades. Missed opportunity.

A further annoyance is that by relying on these three companies, a lot of international development in digital has been ignored. China in the last 6 or 7 years, parallel with the development of the iPhone, has made huge leaps in digital. No mention of the massive app install base in China. No mention of the absolutely huge market as yet still properly tapped by Apple and Google (for financial and ethical reasons) and Microsoft (for copyright reasons). This book would have been worthy of an extra star for throwing a Baidu or Xiaomi into the mix instead of a throwaway comment about custom Android builds.

As a result, the book feels extremely lacking. Still, very much worth a read. Just make sure you do it on a Kindle ;)
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24 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Average fare from a poor technology editor 14 July 2012
First thing you need to know is that this is written by the technology editor of the Guardian. I should have known better, because I've read enough of his substandard journalism to avoid buying this book. Generally his technical knowledge is poor... but worse than this, his bias towards certain companies of the technology fruit variety is well known by all regular readers over at the Guardian website. He's well known for both persistent bias and a poor grasp of technical facts. Sadly this follows him into this book. Save your money, look elsewhere for better material.
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17 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful Read 24 Jun 2012
This book was an awful read. Please save your money and don't buy it. Subject matter has been done better by others.
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12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst book ever seen about the internet 25 July 2013
I think the author Charles Arthur is one of the biggest ignorants in IT and always wants to speak up about technology trying to sing out of the chorus but in a way that I consider not exactly witty! He misunderstand how the world goes and has no idea of what technology is. This book is a bunch of words glue together.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, really enjoyed the depth of insight into these giants of...
I've worked in the computer industry since 1988, I've followed Microsoft, Apple and Google from the get go and read countless books on all three. Read more
Published 8 months ago by DJ SENIOR
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating overview of the three companies that have shaped digital...
This is an engrossing account of the rise of Google, the reinvention of Apple and how Microsoft's own internal culture has consistently tied its shoelaces together. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Phil Suggars
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good overview of the leading Tech companies
The book provides a very good insight about the history of three of the most important companies in the Tech industry. Read more
Published 19 months ago by F JERONIMO
4.0 out of 5 stars A good fast paced read
Ignore the two shady looking reviews below and get started reading this book.

As someone that works in technology and deal with the three of these companies every day I... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mike Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant development and fulfillment of an extended metaphor
I am grateful to Charles Arthur for adding to my knowledge about Apple, Google, and their leaders as well as for adding substantially to what little I knew about Microsoft... Read more
Published on 20 Aug 2012 by Robert Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars Digital Wars
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... Read more
Published on 10 July 2012 by Rolf Dobelli
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