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Apple Vs. Microsoft: And The Winner Is....

You know the great rivalries: dogs vs. cats, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Coke vs. Pepsi. Then there's Apple Computer vs. Microsoft. Two technology-sector observers joined "Power Lunch," to weigh in on the clash of these tech titans.

Apple's Mac was its first big product -- but Richard Stice, hardware equity analyst at Standard & Poor's, says the iPod was the firm's real "game-changing event." He underscored how the digital-music player far outpaced previously popular personal gadgets like Sony's Walkman -- and he clucked at Microsoft's attempt to rival the iPod with its less-than-thrilling Zune. Stice opined that Apple's new next-generation multimedia iPhone -- due to ship in June -- may be the next such "event" that alters the playing field itself. The analyst also declared that it is "highly unlikely" that iconic Apple CEO Steve Jobs will leave his post because of the hubbub over alleged stock-option backdating.

But if Apple has the "coolness factor" sewn up, the House That Bill Gates Built still dominates the business sphere. Citigroup's software research director Brent Thill pointed out that the "enterprise market" will not flock to consumer treats like the iPhone, and have little professional need for applications like making home movies on computers -- a hobby made easy by Apple's computers and Mac OS X operating system.

Thill noted that 800 million PCs worldwide run some form of Microsoft's Windows operating system -- and of those, some 400 million run Microsoft Office, the business-oriented apps suite. (According to December data from Net Applications, Windows market share was 93% -- while Mac OS X and MacIntel together barely reached 6%.)

There is one notion that everyone would likely agree on: neither Gates nor Jobs is likely to wake up poor anytime soon.

Full disclosure: Thill's employer Citigroup holds a substantial number of shares in Microsoft, which is an investment banking client of the financial firm. In addition, Citigroup has or will provide both non-investment banking securities-related services, and non-investment banking non-securities-related services to Microsoft.

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  • Sue Herera is a founding member of CNBC, helping to launch the network in 1989. She is co-anchor of "Power Lunch."

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