Book review – Digital Wars – by Charles Arthur

I follow Charles Arthur’s writings both on the Guardian and on social media. So, I pre-ordered his book ‘Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft and the Battle for the Internet’. Here is a brief review.

The book essentially covers the strategies of Apple. Google and Microsoft and their relative competitive positioning over the crucial span of time between 1990s and the death of Steve Jobs.

It covers areas like Search, Digital music, Smart phones and tablets.

I like reading ‘strategy books’ in general – right from the Art of War to more recent books like the 48 Laws of Power – because I believe that history shapes the future even in the fast moving world of technology.

So, if you share the same beliefs, then this this is indeed an interesting read.

The book does what it says on the cover excellently (chart the evolution of the Digital wars between Apple, Microsoft and Google).

Having said that, I believe that these three companies may not dominate the future. Even Apple, which is currently dominant, may be impacted by Spotify (for example – I switched to Spotify from iTunes). Twitter, Facebook and even Pinterest may be more interesting than Google, Microsoft and Apple in the near future. However, the principles of competition and strategy may remain the same – and this makes ‘Digital wars’ an interesting book if you abstract the strategy away from the specific companies.

The only suggestion I would make is – The subtitle says ‘and the battle for the Internet’. I think these strategies are not affecting the Internet as such i.e. for example to dominate the Internet, protocols like SPDY (proposed by Google as replacing/enhancing http)  could have a far reaching impact i.e. I believe that the ‘wars’ discussed here are not about dominating the Internet in the strictest sense of the word.

The book is nevertheless insightful on the remit it covers and I recommend it