Why YOU are going to win the Google v. Microsoft v. Apple battle

It’s the defining 21st-century tech battle (drum roll, please). In this corner we have Microsoft, the undisputed operating system and software leader for decades. In this corner we have Google, the search-engine powerhouse turned Web-based software and mobile communications developer. And in this corner (yes, our ring is a triangle) we have Apple, the leader in online music sales, innovator of hot tech gadgets and driver of the multi-billion dollar apps industry.

Here’s how each is vying for a piece of the other’s pie.

First, Google is knocking Microsoft off its software throne. With applications built on the Web, Google offers free access to software that can run on any operating system and is not tethered to a desktop.

Mail, docs, blogs, voice (phone) — Google has revolutionized the way we think about software. But for serious business use, it’s not quite there yet. And most people like the old way better when it comes to things like <arel=”nofollow” target=”_blank” href=”http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/13/business/la-fi-google-email-20100813″>email sorting. But there are few complaints about Android, Google’s mobile computing operating system. It’s so popular it outsold iPhone during the first quarter of last year.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is playing catch-up to Google and grabbing some of its Web dominance. It launched a new search engine, Bing, last summer and now Bing has surpassed Yahoo! to become the second most used engine after Google (way after Google, which still has 65% of the US search market). It also launched Microsoft Office Live with all kinds of cloud-based applications for personal and business use that you can get free or rent by the month. And the latest addition: Internet Explorer now has apps just like Android, iPhone and iPad.

Apple, on the other hand, keeps building the devices that everyone wants (or wants to copy), is actually bigger than Microsoft now, just re-launched a cheaper version of Apple TV and is driving the exploding apps market. About three billion apps have been downloaded to iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads so far. But are app developers switching over to Google’s Android? That was the prediction because Android’s platform was more “open” but now that Apple has loosened up, too, it’s yet to be seen.

And in case all the crossing over isn’t confusing enough, Google’s CEO resigned from Apple’s board of directors, this summer, which may leave you asking: what was he doing there in the first place?

One thing’s for certain as these tech giants battle it out: YOU come out ahead. You get better products, better prices and more choices. So get out the popcorn and watch the show.