Microsoft, win at your own game

Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook that said the individual hoped that Microsoft responded to the new Apple App Store with like. Microsoft, a company not known for controlling rules around software guidelines is going to have a competing store? How is that Windows Mobile app store working out for them? Especially when compared to the iTunes App Store. Here is where everyone gets defensive and starts the flaming, lets work through this before we go there.

Microsoft has as many great ideas as they have bad ones. Not many companies can say that. What they do with their ‘great ideas’ is a  real head shaker. Let’s go back to the tablets… they showed us a all screen device (a step away from the notebook with a touch screen). It had one or two buttons. The concept videos really got us thinking about what could be. Then, the hardware came out, we bought a Samsung right away. Just as quick we stopped using it as everyone kept forgetting what all the 10 plus buttons did just to do the basics. Why didn’t Microsoft enforce their vision? Why didn’t they reach out to developers to help prove their concept of ‘no buttons needed’?

The recent start/end of the Kin looked more like a internal company war than a real business decision for a change in product path. Here we had a device that connected individuals to their friends via a variety of social systems. This device really didn’t have to be a ‘teen’ only device, it would have been great for business people that are limited to what they can do socially on their company phones and company networks. For teens, I was hearing a lot about how parents are more concerned about social network time than actual phone talk time, so why not add parental controls? The actual connection charge should have been near to nothing, Kin users will buy phones, services, software and want to interact with other Microsoft devices. Own the market, own the future.

The Kin lost out to the Mobile phone folks at Microsoft. All of the commercials explained that we spend too much time heads down doing things on our cell phones. The commercials were great, with their ‘Really?’ tag, we started hearing it everywhere. The phones started coming out with the new OS and we found that the new ‘big features’ was a home screen that constantly updated with a count of all of the things we are missing and need to look at. Driving people to tap the boxes to see why the numbers were growing. The ‘Really?’ tag has dropped from being used in meetings almost completely now, in just a matter of months.

Hang around any group of people that play games and you will hear the XBox name mentioned. There is still the Wii and PS3, and they own their markets through their unique offerings and their specialized equipment. The XBox has gotten a recent jump in attention through the introduction of the Kinect. The system that allows people to be the controls, it’s a concept that I remember from more than 10 years ago at Las Vegas in the Microsoft and Intel booths. Microsoft finally has it right. They contracted an outside design firm to come up with a snazzy looking device rather than just trust a third party to get it right. Could we see a future of DVR abilities, playing movie DVDs, and ‘other’ entertainment? Maybe… but please don’t think for a minute that the home TV is a place to do social media with a keyboard on the couch, the concept does not work!!

Getting a lot of attention at CES this year is the updated Surface computing device. The table that has the whole top as an interactive touch screen. The device has dropped in size from a big cube of a table like the old ‘table’ video games popular in the 80s to what looks more like a real table with a thinner table top area being held up with legs.

Imagine a world where an effort was applied to the Surface world to drive down costs so it became a common place as an office desk, a home coffee table that knows what is sitting on it and even a night stand (syncing calendar events to the Mobile Phone sitting on it overnight). It would connect and control the TV, what is for dinner, control the house, be the expanded power of the future Kinect, and keep the whole family connected as it talks directly to the Kin in everyone’s pockets.

This isn’t a market area that anyone else is ready for. There wont be a iPad table or office desk. There isn’t anyone that is aligned to control the home central system, always connected to a cloud service which the family shares. All with the Microsoft logo. Or… Microsoft can release a software store of their own, have low numbers, and receive negative press drives everyone to another option in that market space.

Leave a Reply