Saturday, April 14, 2007

Has Microsoft conceded?

In the past year or so, every time Microsoft has gone against GOOG, it has lost.

  • In public perception of nimbleness and innovation? Lost!

    For example, though Windows Live Hotmail remains the most well thought out web mail client out there, as well as the most popular, Microsoft has virtually ceded the crown of innovation to Gmail due to a combination of the following:

  1. A staleness of the Hotmail UI. Until recently, there hadn't been any refresh of the basic UI in Hotmail.
  2. Restricting Hotmail usefulness. To promote MSN Premium, IMO, Microsoft started restricting the usefulness of Hotmail, denying users features such as POP access, aging the emails, limiting mailbox sizes, etc.
  3. Branding stupidity. HoTMaiL, the most important brand in email services, was changed to Live Mail. Begging the question, why? Even now, Microsoft should have done the synergistic thing by branding the new, actually in beta, Windows Live Mail Desktop as the Hotmail Desktop Client, building on the virtual ubiquity of the Hotmail brand. Are they?
  4. Marketing. When was the last time you saw an ads for any of the Windows Live properties? Yet the Windows Live team continues to turn out some of the most incredibly innovative stuff out there.
  5. Lack of evangelism. Adjunct to, and supplementing marketing should be broader evangelism of Microsoft's products. Am I advocating the creation of a fanboi cadre, yes, I am.

Even now, in product nomenclature and advertising, Microsoft seems to have fallen into the IBM-style rut of middle-aged companies, content to reel off specs and WIIFMs instead of aspirational marketing.

Apart from Vista marketing, including the amazing Vanishing Point game, and the initial Zune ads, the perception of Microsoft seems to be that of a follower, rather than innovator.

  • In contractual agreements with top-tier media companies? Lost!!

    All around us and in especially recently, it has been either Yahoo! or Google winning contractual agreements with companies while Microsoft loses out. Constantly!

  • In purchases of companies with a business plan? Lost!!! And losing!!!

    Looking at purchases of companies recently, I don't see a lot of movement when companies are purchased, especially in the not-so-nascent yet extremely important 'search' space.

Which leads me to ask:

Just WTF is going on with the M&A team at Microsoft?

Can't be lack of cash, can it?

I sincerely hope that this is not a case of the NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome.

Now Google gets to purchase DoubleClick.

For goodness sakes, this would have been a very good time to buttonhole Google. and expose it as the one-trick pony it is.

Prior to now, Google was essentially limited to serving ads based on properties across Google's networks. Now it can broaden that base both with advertisers and eyeballs.

Where is Microsoft in all this?

MIA

While I can't profess to know what transpires in the M&A and strategy groups in Redmond, I believe a fire needs to be lit under them in order to re-energize MSFT, the company and the stock.

Sometimes, a potentially adverse decision/purchase has to be made in order to thwart the ambitions of your foe.

Come on, Microsoft! © 2007, John Obeto II for SmallBizVista.com®

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