Looking at the news coming from the #1 Apple PR & Marketing Source, aka the Wall Street Journal, I see Microsoft again creating a market, only to lose it to Apple.
It has happened before, folks!
Do the iPod, iPhone, iRack come to mind. (OK, it is called iTunes not the iRack.)
In each of these market segments, Microsoft delivered a product, created a buzz, and then proceeded to lose completely to Apple.
Because they (Microsoft) took their eyes of the proverbial consumer ball, and in all instances delivered ho-hum consumer products that kow-towed to the whims of the enterprise.
In other words, the products weren’t aspirational.
Think about it: in those instances, Microsoft was focused on delivering the backend plumbing for the products while completely neglecting to provide an impressive consumer-facing product.
Microsoft does not see end users as their primary customers.
That policy will be the death of Microsoft.
If we look at Tablet PCs, what Microsoft did was come up with a few basic usage scenarios and leave it to partners to flesh out the offering, and define the product.
Contrast that with Apple, which, if rumors are correct, is currently meeting with content providers with a view to having them all aboard in time for the product launch. For Apple correctly realizes that without content from Day 1, the device will suffer.
In Microsoft’s worldview, the product would create the content.
A sort of trickle-down notion, in these days of groundswell marketing
It is that extremely dangerous back-asswards kind of thinking that has felled some of the brightest and most innovative developments to come out of Redmond.
Look at the Zune HD
Obviously the best product out there. Yet it has been saddled with association with Microsoft. For the past couple of years, Microsoft had a great opportunity to make inroads into the PMP market by making Zune the included media player in Windows, the Xbox 360, and all of their other assets, including Microsoft Auto.
Did Microsoft do that?
The executive sat on their thumbs and squandered an opportunity to bring order to a fragmented space and enjoy the associated (unintended?) network effect of customer lock-in.
Furthermore, they purchased Expression with the Expression Media product. My thoughts are that time was that Microsoft was going to integrate Expression Media with Zune to provide extensive, and market-leading indexing and cataloging functionality to that space.
Where is Expression Media today? Probably put out to pasture before a very un-ceremonial coup de grâce to help end it all.
Think I’m wrong?
Okay, where’s the TrueSpace product today?
Shouldn’t Microsoft have made that a new component of the Windows Live Essentials product, and expanded the desirability of that impressive freebie software suite?
Wouldn’t the replacement of the Windows Media Player with the Zune have been brilliant?
Did they do so?
Please don’t give me guff about antitrust legislation, okay?
Microsoft would have been replacing a dated product with a more capable one.
Tablet PCs vs. iPADlet PC
Coming back to the issue at hand, I see Apple, if rumors ring true, creating several new usage scenarios for the product ahead of release.
Isn’t that what any owner of a potentially-successful product should do?
Microsoft needs to do more than just tell a good story. They need to tell us why we should go to Tablet PCs, and not leave the storytelling to OEMs or box movers, who certainly do not know how to position the product.
Moreover, Microsoft has to change their current groupthink from the OEMs/vendors being their primary customers to the consumer.
Apple has been able assume primacy in all those product segments by placing the needs, desires, and whims of the end-user first, to their great success.
Then the ecosystem and the backend plumbing followed.
Is Microsoft agile enough to realize this and turn on a dime?