Scoble vs. the as-of-yet secret sauceless Ballmer

Scoble, ex of Microsoft, wrote:Look at my last post. Now read this one over on LiveSide.

Scoble, ex of Microsoft, wrote:

Look at my last post. Now read this one over on LiveSide. It’s a short report that Microsoft executives are bragging to MVPs that “we’re in it to win.”

I don’t think Microsoft is. The words are empty. Microsoft’s Internet execution sucks (on whole). Its search sucks. Its advertising sucks (look at that last post again). If that’s “in it to win” then I don’t get it. I saw a bunch of posts similar to the one on LiveSide coming out of the MVP Summit. I didn’t post any of them to my link blog for a reason: All were air, no real demonstrations of how Microsoft is going to lead.

Microsoft isn’t going away. Don’t get me wrong. They have record profits, record sales, all that. But on the Internet? Come on. This isn’t winning. Microsoft: stop the talk. Ship a better search, a better advertising system than Google, a better hosting service than Amazon, a better cross-platform Web development ecosystem than Adobe, and get some services out there that are innovative (where’s the video RSS reader? Blog search? Something like Yahoo’s Pipes? A real blog service? A way to look up people?) That’s how you win......

Which reminded me of some interview text I transcribed from Roger McNamee's interview of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer late last spring. Said Ballmer:

The way advertising is bought and sold will be fundamentally different in the future than it is today. That, I think we all agree. The importance of technology in the sale of advertising will go up. There’s many issues to confront… privacy issues…..In some senses, the way to think about what we’re doing with our Ad Center service or what some of the other guys — Overture, Google — are doing is creating…think of it as an eBay for advertising. How do you  bring buyers and sellers of advertising together.  How do you do that in a way that creates value for both of those and gives the consumer an advertising experience that’s not disruptive but is tailored and additive to the consumer advertising experience while retaining appropriate respect for end user privacy and that’s a set of technology issues.

The advertising industry is one of the biggest industries in the world. It will have more disruption from  technology frankly more than any of the other businesses that have gotten a lot of attention and that will affect the future of media companies.  That will affect the future of software companies and a variety of others. We think we have a lot of ideas around that topic. But, in a sense, we’re a Johnny-Come-Lately.  And really, the guys you have  say who came first were Overture, and then Google, and we’re a little bit later to the game. But I think we really grock what’s going on.

In order to get that kind of marketplace to critical mass, you have applications yourselves. Just like you could say we needed an Office to bootstrap a Windows, you need some applications to help bootstrap that marketplace.  But, its ultimate success is going to be not just based on your own applications. Google has bootstrapped their marketplace with search. We are bootstrapping our own marketplace with search, Hotmail, IM, a lot of things which have ad inventory. But at the end of the day, it’s really going to be the ability to create a mass marketplace that’s going to give value to buyers of ads, sellers of ads, and the consumers.

In an old blog post, I dissected that passage word for word to see if we could find any clues as to what sort of secret sauce Ballmer had up his sleeve (or thinks he has).  

Anyway, Ballmer clearly thought then that Microsoft had something special up there (in his sleeve). But that was last May. An Internet eternity has passed and nothing much has happened on the Microsoft Internet platform since then -- at least nothing that speaks to a reinvention of the sort that Ballmer was referring to. So, the next obvious question is how long will it be until we get to see the secret sauce? Or, will Scoble's words ring true for another 10 months. And another.

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