John Gruber has an interesting commentary on the recent Microsoft results and on a few comments floating around their execs these days. Have a read at ? Microsoft’s Long, Slow Decline
In my books, there’s another aspect to this. Microsoft is about cost and profitability. Every company is, but Microsoft is making that associated with their brand. Cost. Race to the bottom. Not usually a game for the faint of heart, and never for an innovator. What happened? I’ve never been a Microsoft fan, but I have had a deep grudging respect for the engineers at Redmond. They have a number of talented, driven, capable developers down there. They do put together good systems, and in the rare cases when the product design is great, you get a great product. It has been happening less often, but that’s just the sliding maturity of the Redmond Juggernaut.
Now you’re getting a rebranding to “cheaper”. Not a great connotation. “Cheaper” is not the answer to their somewhat vague “Where do you want to go today?”. It is definitely not a good connotation to the enterprise campaign of “People Powered” enterprise computing. Cheaper is, as Gruber notes and is in the consciousness of most North American consumers, Wal*Mart.
Apple has gone for “better”. More capable, secure, easier, and other adjectives, but the brand has been associated to “better” in their strategy. It’s had more expensive bolted to it, but they have queited that enough to be given a thought, and with the iPhone and iPod being copied left right and centre for features and ideas, the consumers easily find the conclusion “better” beside Apple’s name. Everybody is copying them and talking about them.
Microsoft used to be “full featured” or “powerful” or “fully integrated”. Piles of things that let you know this was serious stuff that did anything you needed. Sure, a bit of complexity, but really, you needed that complexity to do the jobs you needed done. And generally, they were right. It fit. Now, competitors, and not just Apple, have chewed into that with simpler, easier solutions that solved most of the things a lot of people needed, and did some parts better or more elegantly. But Microsoft has always been the juggernaut. It WILL be able to do it.
Now it’s just bending to “cheaper”. I’m not a fan of them, but I expect better from them. I expect some vision. I expect capability, prowess, some arrogance. John Gruber is right. They lost the geeks. They lost the consumers in a lot of cases, at least the ones that care as he points out. They aren’t messaging the users anymore. They’re messaging to CIOs, and to people that done do that much with the computer. It’s like an extra TV in the spare room now. Oh yeah, the computer for email and facebook. Yeah, I think it runs Firefox. Windows? Oh I guess so. It must be windows. Is that Firefox? I use Internet Explorer. Is that Windows?
That’s the customer they are targetting. Ouch. I’ll pay the money for the quality and keep the Mac thanks. Maybe they are missing Bill Gates a lot more than Steve Ballmer would like to admit…
(Original thread from Daring Fireball.)