Microsoft's wishful thinking

Microsoft's new strategy: be all things to all people - infrastructure, business, entertainment, services. Why would anyone think that would work?
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

I just read Microsoft's  new strategy document - Transforming Our Company - so you don't have to. It isn't the dumbest strategy ever, but it's in the top 10. 

Wishful drinking  Start with wishful thinking - and you're doomed. Here are my favorite delusional quotes:

". . . consumers crave one experience across all of their technology." Consumers crave one experience? You better hope not because if they do Android is the likely winner.

"As technology moves from people’s desks to everywhere in their lives, it should become simpler, not more complex." Tablets and smartphones are simpler - that's why they're killing PCs.

". . . our strengths are in high-value activities, powering devices and enterprise services." Quick, name one successful Microsoft device that isn't a game console.

Reality check  Microsoft is an infrastructure and business user software company - and they are good at it - but they haven't beaten Linux. That is a real challenge and perhaps one they've decided they can’t win.

Microsoft is not a consumer product company. They've had some consumer products - the most famous of which is the Xbox -  but even that required billions of dollars in investment and numerous missteps before if finally turn a profit - just in time for the Wii and smartphones to shift gaming from consoles.

Microsoft has spent billions engineering products for enterprise use – a wise strategy since that is where the consistent margin is. They're also spending billions on cloud infrastructure and doing some very smart things better than Google. Enterprise and cloud are two sides of the same coin - and a natural market for all this innovation Microsoft keeps talking about. 

The Storage Bits take  Microsoft needs to focus on their enterprise and cloud technology and services instead of chasing after flighty teenagers. The Microsoft brand is many things, but cool isn't one of them. 

Microsoft's competitive strategy for markets that it didn't invent is simple: keep pouring money in and wait for the other guy to screw up. But there is a rich, diverse ecosystem behind Android and iOS that keeps inventing new and exciting options.  

And Google and Amazon aren't standing still on the cloud and services. Carving out a major market position given a late start won't be easy, but if they succeded it would pay for decades.

How about this for a challenge: develop a really good, easy to use consumer cloud storage service that offers massive storage, fast searching, versioning and guaranteed availability for a reasonable price. The masses are gradually realizing that all their digital data is risk and the big company that hits the sweet spot will reap decades of subscription income and consumer insight.

Yeah, it isn't cool - but neither are you, Microsoft. So go for it!

Comments weclome - as if I could stop you!  What are the challenges you think Microsoft is uniquely qualified to tackle?

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