Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Decline and Fall of the Microsoft Empire

Microsoft have just put $300 million  in Barnes & Nobles Nook e-Book reader. This seems a further desperate attempt to regain its lost technology dominance from Apple - but what are its chances of recovering?

Fat to Slim.

As little as ten years ago Microsoft dominated the tech world - because it dominated the PC market. It seemed set to continue its dominance moving into new tech markets. It had lost the battle for the internet, but it still dominated Home and Corporate computer markets with the Wintel PC - and held the gateway to the internet with Internet Explorer browser and Outlook and Exchange email. But then five years ago this bastion began to crumble.

I would trace the first cracks to Music. Microsoft's Media Player was so dominant that EU regulators made them produce a copy of widows without it. But it wasn't cool to buy music off Microsoft. So MP3s ruled - with the aid of some pirates. Apples innovation with iPod and iTunes bought structure to the market and Apples innovation gave it a lucrative new market. It gets 15% of the price of music sold on iTunes and it can charge $300 for an iPod - while MP3 players are $30

Blackberry had really started the smartphone market, but Apple muscled in with iPhone where its dominance again gave it a premium product.. It also created the Apps Market - and the iPad created the Tablet market. Apple aren't everywhere - They are a late entrant in cloud services and haven't bothered with search.

Microsoft  - haemorrhaging market share and share price - was late to the game in Smartphones - and then only got to the starting line with an equally desperate Nokia. Windows tablets are only really set to strat marketing with the arrival of Windows 8 later this year.

Cross Sell from Physical Sales
Smart Phones
Partnered with Nokia -Laggard
Cloud Services
Late Entrant
Nowhere – partnered with Google
Laggard – Partnered with Yahoo 
Social Networking
Late Entrant
Late Entrant
Late Entrant
Still to enter
Late Entrant
Innovator and cross sell from Physical Sales
Laggard / Late Entrant
Partnered with B&N Nook - Laggard

So to the e-book market - dominated by e-retailer Amazon. Microsoft desperately needs to get into this market - mainly to have distinctive content for its Tablet when it arrives.

But will it succeed partnering with an also-ran in the market? Just as it partnered with Nokia in the phone market. The Nook hardware runs on Android Software, and we can be sure that a Windows tablet with have Amazon Kindle running on it - as do Google and Apple devices. And you can read your Amazon library on any of them.

So Microsoft's decline looks set to continue. Partnering with other declining companies isn't going to slow it's fall - or give it any innovation that has made Apple grow into  the largest company in the world

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Google: Pause your Privacy Policy

Google has been asked to suspend changes to its privacy policy by a group of EU data protection regulators.

Google plans to unify 60 different privacy policies across its products from 1 March.

In a letter to the search giant, the EU group called for a "pause" so it could complete its analysis of the change.

BBC News - Google: EU group urges privacy policy change pause

Friday, 28 October 2011

Buzz Off

Google's Buzz - their answer to Twitter - is "retiring".

After launching  two years ago - and without their usual Beta period - it never got the critical mass or created the buzz needed.

"We aspire to build great products that really change people’s lives, products they use two or three times a day. To succeed you need real focus and thought—thought about what you work on and, just as important, what you don’t work on. It’s why we recently decided to shut down some products, and turn others into features of existing products" Google's official blog explained - in effect announcing that they were throwing everything at Google+ social networking.

The retirement of Buzz is not a big failure. Innovation requires a lot of false starts - although it could be argued that a copy of Twitter is not really innovation. Googles Wave was a very innovative product - but faced a similar fate.

However what could be a big failure - and possibly one that could topple their domininace of the web - is that it seems that Google seems to be forgetting how to innovate;

  • The closure of Google Labs - announced at the same time - has put an end to their incubation unit.
  • More importantly Google seems to have forgotten how to fail. Lars Rasmussen, the architect of Wave and Maps, jumped ship to Facebook after the plug was pulled on Wave saying  "ultimately failing was obviously a little stressful",

Google is betting all their development resources and their employees bonuses on Google+. However in doing this it seems to be suppressing that vital entrepreneurial spark.

Friday, 7 October 2011

The Magician

It is hard to add to the tributes to Steve Jobs. He also left such a wealth of quotes that are now so much more poignant.

I look back at hollow media predicitions made at the start of this week for the iPhone announcement.
"It will have a bigger screen" - It didn't.
"It will look slimmer - like the iPad" It wasn't.
"It will be the iPhone 5 -and there will be a cameo appearance by Steve Jobs"
So sad. If Steve Jobs had making the announcement, you just know he would have made it the iPhone 5.