Foley on Microsoft
10 Apples To Tempt Microsoft
Here's hoping that Microsoft doesn't fall for the bait.
- By Mary Jo Foley
The annual Macworld show happens later this month -- the time when pundits
inevitably pit Microsoft against Apple in their various analyses. The formulas
are quite predictable, as are the results. Typical findings: "Microsoft
should learn these lessons from Apple" or "Microsoft should take a
page from Apple's book."
Sure, there are some areas where Apple is ahead of Microsoft, especially in
the areas of design and packaging. But not everything Apple does is worthy of
emulation by the Redmondians. In fact, some of the strategic moves Apple has
made in the past couple of years are ones Microsoft should avoid.
Here are my Top 10.
Microsoft should not:
1. Pooh-pooh the power of third-party developers. While many in the
open source community love the Mac OS, the reality is Apple makes its living
from proprietary systems. There could be a change coming, given that Apple is
belatedly releasing an iPhone SDK.
2. Believe no one else can "think different." Starting from
the top, Apple is arrogant. 'Softies can be just as proud -- if not more so
-- ask anyone in the tech industry. But the Microsoft arrogance is tempered
by a sense of self-questioning and willingness to reflect on "how we suck."
3. Assume your inner circle of press "friends" will protect
you in perpetuity. Apple seemingly hand-selects which press/reviewers get its
products based on how favorable their coverage is. If Microsoft tried to operate
this way, the company probably would be sued.
4. Attempt to ban use of the "M" word. Apple PR recently was
caught on tape unceremoniously ending an interview when a journalist asked whether
iTunes might be considered an illegal monopoly. As much as Microsoft might hate
the "M" word, monopoly allegations and questions are going to plague
the company for the rest of its days.
5. Ding your existing customers and expect them to stay loyal. Can you
imagine the outrage if Microsoft had customers queuing for days before rolling
out a new product (iPhone), only to slash hundreds of dollars off its price
a couple of months after the rollout?
6. Sue bloggers. While on the topic of lawsuits, what the heck was Apple
thinking when it sued bloggers a few years back for publishing alleged Apple
trade secrets passed on to them by sources? Microsoft has rattled some cages
to dissuade the press from making public information obtained fairly from leakers,
but it has respected the freedom of the press.
7. Think that no comments (and black turtlenecks) will make everything
OK. I've been on the receiving side of plenty of Microsoft "no comments"
when trying to report/confirm a story. But at least I get no comments. Queries
to Apple -- by press, developers and users -- often go unanswered or are answered
in doublespeak. Being cool doesn't mean being unresponsive.
8. Throw stones at a time when everyone in the transparent tech world
lives in glass houses. 'Softies must be loving reports of Mac OS Leopard crashes
and iPhone bricking, especially after Apple's campaign to disparage Vista with
the "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" commercials.
9. Expect an "RDF" to be an everlasting force field. An RDF
is a Reality Distortion Field (i.e. the combination of charm, charisma and belief
perpetuated by Apple and its followers that Apple is the center of the universe).
Microsoft doesn't have a fan-boy army anything like the instantly excitable
Mac zealots, but then blind loyalists can quickly become an angry mob.
10. Bank on consumer sales leading to enterprise sales. Apple has done
little to reach out to business users. The underlying message: If business users
are smart, hip and cool enough, they'll understand why Apple products are superior.
Now that Microsoft officials have taken to justifying Redmond's growing consumer
investments by claiming tech innovation is coming from consumers, not business
users, Microsoft could go the same route.
Got any other advice for the 'Softies about what they should copy or avoid
copying from the Cupertino crew?
More InformationBonus Links
Mary Jo Foley is editor of the ZDNet "All About Microsoft" blog and has been covering Microsoft for about two decades. She has a new book out, Microsoft 2.0 (John Wiley & Sons, May 2008), about what's next for Microsoft in the post-Gates era.