It was a race to become "the platform" that everyone used. We thought it was going to be the platform everyone would use for all time, but as we start using mobile devices (ie non mac or windows) more and more, we are starting to realise that the entire windows v mac thing existed in just a very small window of time.
And now a new race is on. the race to be the defining platform in the mobile world. Android (from Google) and iOS (from Apple) are the front runners. Windows Phone is making a run, and RIM still have a small representation with their blackberry devices.
The thought is that at some point one of these brands will end up becoming the "standard" and 90% of the world will need to use that standard in order to interact properly in business and in life.
But really, why do we all need to be using the same operating system?
With windows and mac, there were real headaches when trying to have a business running both machines. Networking issues, word processing and spreadsheet documents not working on one platform or the other. Even USB memory sticks only working on one or the other.
But in the world we live in today, I really don't see how the same headaches are going to arise.
For me and my family at home, there really doesn't seem to be a lot of headaches that would pop up if we were using multiple mobile platforms.
An iPad or a Nexus 7 or a Microsoft Surface tablet will all work on the same WiFi network. As will an iPhone or a Galaxy S3 or a Nokia Lumia 900.
They can all access Facebook.
They can all share and browse images on Flickr.
They can all use dropbox.
They can all access Evernote.
They can all text each other.
They can all email each other.
They can all create and edit .doc or .xls or whatever documents you have.
They can all browse the internet.
They can all print wirelessly.
They can all take photos.
They can all send and receive each other's photos.
They can all access Gmail (and Google Calendars).
They can all read Kindle books.
They can all listen to MP3s.
They can all download and listen to podcasts.
They can all Skype each other.
They can all buy things off eBay and Amazon.
Obviously it will be argued that some devices will be better at or more suited to certain tasks than others. But if you prefer Apple's iOS but all your friends and colleagues are using Android phones, you will still have no trouble communicating with them by electronic means or sharing information or documents or photos.
Sure, you may not get free text messages ala iMessage unless the whole world uses Apple. But there are plenty of apps that will allow you to kinda text other OS's for free.
I have a lot of friends that use Android and a lot that use iOS, but I never have problems when I need to share documents or anything else. Asking people what device they have just never comes up (unless of course they have a 5 year old nokia dumb phone that hasn't got MMS activated, DAD!). I personally use all Apple products, and in the back of my mind I feel like if I can get the rest of the world to use Apple too then somehow my life will be a little more convenient. But it just doesn't appear to be the case.
And I think this is a great thing for consumers, because even if Apple gain complete market dominance with the iPad, there will still be very little that will keep consumers locked into the Apple ecosystem other than the fact that media they buy are stored for them in the cloud on iTunes. And if the rest of the world ends up using Android, it won't really bother me because I'll still be able to interact with them from my iPhone and iPad and everything will work just fine.
So each brand will have to continue to give people a reason to buy their product, because it really won't be much of a headache to switch brands of devices in a world where all your data is in the cloud and can be accessed and used from any device you choose.
Long live competition.