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The problem with microsoft

February 7, 2007

Richard Ehrenberg of Information Arbitrage has written a brilliant post on the problems at Microsoft, something that deserves to be read by everyone who works in the strategy game.

It’s a delightful read and a well constructed argument that takes a thorough look at a company and a culture that appears to have lost its way.

It highlights an embarrassing catalog of missteps including; Zune’s PR nightmares with 100 page legal agreements being sent to bloggers, websites set up chastising Asians for not buying the Xbox360, Vista’s lackluster marketing efforts and Bill Gates’s less than spectacular performance on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.

The post reaches a radical conclusion that Vista might a product that’s not relevant for the C21st.

“We may be witnessing an historic changing of the guard, which takes place in every generation. Remember IBM? They were invincible. How could they be beat? By a couple of geeks in a dorm room, that’s how. Microsoft rises. And then another snot-nosed kid with a great idea and a dorm room made it happen in the box business, enter Dell. Then others got wise and squeezed their efficiency-based margins to nothing. Apple rose like a phoenix, crashed and rose once again, by virtue of innovation and a customer-centric ethos. Sony was like IBM. Now they’ve been bloodied by the customer-centric and community-oriented Nintendo. And now there’s Google, the poster-child for the democratization of the Internet and the ever-flattening, increasingly frictionless world. When put in this context Microsoft just seems so big and slow and old, hidebound by 30 years of culture and organizational silos that seem impregnable. And it appears that Vista – the product, the PR, the marketing approach – is the result of such an organization. At times brilliant, very heavy, complicated and expensive. This is not a product for today. This is a product for an era when the desktop ruled. And that era is long gone.”

Influx’s big question:

Who else is in danger of falling into the same camp as Microsoft and what can they do about it?

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