Where's Microsoft going next in the 'prosumer' space?
Microsoft is looking at families, personal finance and education as ways it can grow its multi-billion-dollar productivity-focused consumer business further, according to a number of recent job postings.
While M365 Family and Personal seems to have gained a considerable amount of traction, Microsoft's other prosumer efforts don't seem to be making any big waves. But Microsoft isn't giving up on trying to win over prosumers. In fact, it seems to be redoubling its efforts based on a number of recent job descriptions.
For years, Microsoft has been looking for a way to make its products more appealing to families, not just individuals. Almost a decade ago, Microsoft officials already had decided that building products and services with families in mind could give the company some differentiation from the other big consumer tech vendors. Most recently, Microsoft introduced "Kids Mode" for its new Edge browser as yet another way to try to make inroads with families.
According to another Microsoft job posting: "Microsoft's family services are cross-platform and touch every consumer product that Microsoft creates (including Xbox, Windows, and Office apps). We are dedicated to helping families stay organized and keep them safe in a world full of digital devices, phones, game consoles and access to any type of content."
Its Modern Life Experiences (MLX) team, which seems to operate largely out of Vancouver, B.C., is all about "new customer experiences for families (safety, learn, grow and quality time together)."
In the coming months (I secretly love that I got to incorporate this oft-used Microsoft spokesperson lingo here), Microsoft seems to be planning to add a learning component to its Modern Life effort. The company's "empower every person" tagline is getting an update: "Empower every learner, family and educator on the planet."
I'm not sure which of its learning assets Microsoft will pull together for this. It has a bunch of educator-customized software and services, including the Microsoft Whiteboard; its Microsoft Learn portal; and LinkedIn Learning. There's also a learning app being built into Teams which Microsoft could customize for prosumers, not just business users. Microsoft wants to highlight how its products and services can help users educate themselves for future jobs; find jobs; retrain for new jobs; and continue to learn once in their jobs.
Microsoft also is working to build out the consumer finance niche it targeted with its Money in Excel offering. A recent job post mentions that Microsoft is building a "trusted daily financial assistant which empowers users to grow financial knowledge and make intelligent decisions for financial well-being." So some kind of chatbot, likely, which may or may not use Cortana AI under the covers?
In spite of its ongoing success in the business space, Microsoft officials insist the company will never be an IBM, focusing almost entirely on the business market. The question is when and if all its investment and strategizing in the consumer/prosumer space will make Microsoft more than an enterprise company with a big gaming side business.