The announcement that Microsoft is buying a stake in the Barnes & Noble eBook empire is a sure sign of Apple's flagging dominance.
This news comes right on the heels of several "empire ending" announcements including the Justic Department investigation of collusion among several eBook publishers allegedly led by Apple, and the new Windows 8 operating system which aims to marry conventional PC technology with tablet tech for a system that works seamlessly between both.
It was only a matter of time until someone decided to challenge Apple for the digital throne, and the fact that it is Microsoft just makes sense. They have the most money to throw around and a track record of innovation themselves, albeit not to the extent nor as recent as the technology changes brought by Apple, but no less valuable.
So, what does all this mean for digital dwellers? Plenty.
Competition between companies always means better deals for the consumers. Sometimes these deals come in the form of new tech, sometimes in the prices available for standard tech; sometimes just in the way they deal with existing companies.
Look, as a consumer, you are likely to get more traction from the company you are trying to deal with if they have at least some fear they might lose you as a customer. For the past few years Apple has dominated the digital market for eBooks and music; tablets and smartphones. They have been immune to serious competition because of their position and this has kept prices high (not including claims from the DOJ) and allowed them to dictate which direction the market will go and what will come next. They didn't NEED you; if you wanted to go somewhere else, they thought, good luck.
There is no way to know what exactly will come from the partnership between Barnes & Noble and Microsoft, but it is exciting nonetheless. Anyone who can shake the foundation of the Apple empire has my full support. And when they have unseated the Emperor and become the Emperor themselves, we can focus on unseating them as well.
All for the betterment of the people.