Battle for Relevance: Microsoft
In the battle for relevance in the technology market place is Microsoft falling too far behind? While Microsoft is still in good shape and will be for the next few years, they are in a heated battle for market relevancy. Make no mistake about it, Microsoft is having some serious morale issues. The Kin is Microsoft’s most recent failed product launch, which is rumored to have only sold 503 units. Pretty horrendous. While their latest Windows release (Windows 7) is doing well along with Microsoft Office, it doesn’t bode well with me how easily that can turn around for Microsoft (think Windows Vista).
Windows Vista was another ill-received product released from the software giant after the huge success of Windows XP. If you look at Microsoft’s Windows releases, you had everything prior to Windows 95 and then everything after. Many people are also familiar with the other lack luster Windows release, that being, Windows Me. Windows Me essentially bridged the gap between 98 (or 98SE – which I never fully understood) and XP for consumers since Windows NT and 2000 seemed to be more popular on the enterprise level. What I’m getting at here is how quickly the tide turns for Microsoft. Can they survive another poor Windows release? Technically, of course, they have plenty of cash on hand, but will it too damaging from a marketing perspective in the long run?
Microsoft currently has two major cash cows – Windows and Office. But we have seen the trend – a move to more portable devices and web based operating systems (the jury is still out on this one until we see Chrome OS in action, but the threat is real). Those cash cows can (and most likely will) start to dry up over the years. We haven’t seen Microsoft tread too far off the egde from their comfort zone for a while when it comes to their core business. They haven’t “Wowed” us so to speak. Not to mention the last time they tried to “Wow” us we ended up with Windows Vista.
Of course, Microsoft also has other things going for them, such as XBOX and XBOX Live. Live is supposedly doing really well, too. As it should, it’s a great product. I even use it. But XBOX isn’t enough, not for a company Microsoft’s size (especially if they want to stay that size). They need more. They need an idea which can reinvent their core or at least, heavily modify it. In their current state, they aren’t able to compete with Apple and Google (from an idea perspective, not from a money or talent one). Unless this new and upcoming Windows 7 Phone is completely revolutionary in some sense and Ballmer can get this thing selling, they don’t have a chance. They would have to offer everything the competition offers and then some. It would have to be dead simple to use and integrate with everything people want to do perfectly. Which Microsoft is capable of doing to a degree. Again, look at the XBOX, it’s a great media and gaming center.
Microsoft has some time here, but that hour glass is still running out and every time Apple or Google or someone else release something new, it’s slowly eating away at Microsoft’s opportunities.
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