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Lack of a Tablet (and Urgency) Costing Microsoft Big Time

Somebody out there has been doing math. We've heard about how the complete lack of a tablet has hurt Microsoft's mind share and maybe even its market share, but now some pundit out there says that it's hurting Microsoft's bottom line, too.

To the tune of $1 billion, no less. At least that's what one columnist over in the United Kingdom figures, old bean, based on some number crunching and analysts' estimates. And maybe it's accurate. Regardless, it only serves to further illustrate how badly Microsoft has screwed up this tablet thing.

And where is the Microsoft we once knew? The company that nearly missed the Web and responded by destroying Netscape? The company that cornered the market for operating systems despite not actually inventing much of what would become the OS? The company that blew out Unix and kept Linux on the fringes? Where is the Microsoft that reacted to the market with urgency, swiftness and debilitating viciousness when it sensed that it might be losing its utter domination of a market it wanted to own?

This Microsoft is different -- big, slow, almost complacent in the face of mounting and genuinely threatening competition. This doesn't feel like a kinder, gentler Microsoft. It feels like an aging, darn near bumbling Microsoft, particularly when it comes to responding to competition in consumer-based product areas. It's just strange, and we can't put our finger on why it's happening...but it is.

Are we overreacting? Send your thoughts to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/09/2011 at 1:23 PM


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Reader Comments:

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 New Zealand

Just a couple things to point out to add to the conversation. Windows 7 OS, fastest selling OS to date... Kinect, fastest selling electronics good in history.

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 Dave

I agree with the commentator. I have a friend that left Microsoft for Google and after talking to him for awhile about the differences I had the impression the 2 companies are managed completely different. At Microsoft it is very hierarchical with a lot of your time spent on company politics and reacting to crazy edicts from above. At Google it is very flat with a lot of your time spent on taking an idea and developing it on your own to see where it goes. It seems to me that Microsoft's anemic response to the competition is a reflection of how the company structure has evolved and the present leadership in place.

Thu, Mar 10, 2011 Dr. John

It's simple - Bill's not running the show anymore. Bill pushed for greatness.

Thu, Mar 10, 2011 AG Minnesota

I agree with the above commenter... I've been utterly shocked at the lack of even *average* marketing for Windows Phone 7. The marketing has been, imho, horrifically bad. The Microsoft-created ads I've seen have for some bizarre reason touted the simplicity of the phone, when in fact people are crazy nowadays about their phones and want a phone that does everything. The AT&T ads for WP7 are even worse, showing a little purple animated creature who is in awe of the phone, but the viewer is never clued into why. I'm just shocked... Microsoft could've just taken an iPhone- or iPad-type ad and essentially copied it (tweaking it), and had probably hundreds of thousands more sales of WP7 with it... The only thing I can think is that Ballmer and co. have some knowledge of upcoming deals etc that we don't... But still, why not create at least ONE great TV ad for WP7?? Like the previous commenter I want to see MS succeed.

Wed, Mar 9, 2011 Tom

You're definitely not overreacting nor exagerating Lee, and I agree that something seems genuinely broken. Microsoft is in stark contrast to Google which releases a new browser version every 6 weeks (not that I actually care), is always in the headlines and has fantastic advertising and marketing. But Microsoft,,, they just seem to sit there making small tweaks here and there. And when they do something great they quickly un-do it. Example: What the heck is up with Windows Live Mesh? Live Mesh Beta was fantastic and students in universities loved it! Whereas Windows Live Mesh is,, well,, blahhh and so they just handed those people to DropBox. And why dump Drive Extender from WHS especially when many folks buy WHS for that very reason? Why kill off the Employee Purchase Program (EPP) which allowed employees (such as those from the NHS in the UK) to obtain MS Office for about $10? And then tell those people you have to uninstall it and pay full price? Are they trying to make people move to OpenOffice or GoogleDocs? What's up with the Hotmail UI? Compared to GMAIL I think it's a mess. And Live Spaces? Now telling those millions of users to use WordPress? Better to revamp Live Spaces and fix what needs fixing rather than lose the users and content. Does anyone remember NetDocs? It was GoogleDocs years earlier but it disappeared after devt (prob due to the perceived threat to MS Office). Zune a great device, zero marketing. WP7, again great device, where's the aggresive marketing? I say all this not to hurt Microsoft, but because I genuinely do care what happens to them and want to see them rise to their true potential. They employ lots of great people who have great ideas, but something is certainly amiss...

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