Microsoft's Biggest Threat: The Younger Generation

Whenever I'm at Starbucks, visiting my local mall, or even just driving around town, I find something rather interesting: younger people are nearly always using an Apple product.Now, I'll fully admit that there are exceptions to the rule and I'm sure that there are countless people out there that can tell me that they are proud BlackBerry and Windows PC owners. But I'm willing to wager that if you sit on a college campus for a day and examine what all the students are using, more often than not, it'll be an iPhone and a Mac. And when they leave school, those some individuals are using the latest and greatest Apple products.

For Apple, that's a good thing. Those people have literally grown up on the company's products, and chances are, will continue to use them in the coming years. Even better, as those people grow their families, their children will likely grow up in Apple-only homes. A whole new generation of people will grow up knowing only Apple products.

Last year, released a study that found that the typical Mac user was between the ages of 18 and 34. The typical Windows users, on the other hand, fell into the 35-to-49 demographic.

That couldn't be worse news for Microsoft. For years, the Windows maker has been dominating the computing space and growing its installed base around the world. But I'm starting to wonder if that might change in the coming years. After all, all signs seem to point to a growing number of people wanting to use Macs and Apple products over PCs.

Still, I'm aware that there have been countless people that have come before me and said that Microsoft would lose its footing in the PC space, only to watch the software giant grow its business. I'm also fully aware that market dynamics can change quickly, and one bad move on Apple's part could all but end its dominance among younger people.

[aquote]Microsoft will need to respond swiftly and with something better[/aquote]

But that can work both ways. For now, Microsoft and Apple are trying to target slightly different areas of the market. Over time, as those two areas continue to merge, Microsoft will need to respond swiftly and with something even better. Whether or not it'll be able to do that, however, remains to be seen.

So, perhaps Microsoft should direct its attention towards other areas. Sure, the company is concerned about Google and Android, but perhaps its real concern should be younger consumers. For now, those folks are voting with their wallets. And Apple, not Microsoft, is the company they're voting for.

Watch out, Microsoft. The younger generations out there might just spell the end to your business. It won't happen soon, but in 20 years, things could look much, much different in Redmond.

[Original image credit: Associated Press]