I guess it was bound to happen. It is something I have seen many times before. It is annoying, frustrating, and in some corners just plain pathetic. Addressing the competitive threat by any means necessary. even when it is obviously desperate. It’s these type of corporate responses that drive me nuts. Recently Microsoft (my old company) has come under a lot of pressure to come up with a Tablet strategy. I should add Microsoft has had for years a Tablet. It was one of Bill Gates’ pet projects, They just need a strategy that works. The Microsoft response is a iPad battle card to help Microsoft partners and its field sales force sell Windows 7 slates in the enterprise, while combating the threat from the iPad.
Let me go back a bit in time and just say I have seen these battle cards before. It was pretty standard practice at Microsoft across all battle lines and often they were very helpful. However after the successful debut of the Apple iPhone I received in my mail box a little envelope that contained my Windows Phone 6 versus the Apple iPhone battle card (I am serious…I am not making this up). What were some of the advantages of Windows Phone 6? It had mobile Office, Sharepoint Support, better Exchange Synch etc..If you read the link earlier you will by now realize that whomever the marketing manager is who put the Apple iPad battle card together has mastered the art of copy and paste.
Do not get me wrong for a minute, I do not envy the marketing Manager who had the responsibility of taking this on. It is one of those things that when nothing is happening on the product side you still have to generate some sort of response, the worst thing is to be quiet. And to their credit they created some really nice slide ware. I will be however surprised to see if any of my former mates in the Microsoft field sales force ever have the guts to present this to a customer or even regurgitate it over drinks or dinner with a client.
The slide, though intended for partners, demonstrates the focus on the enterprise and the disengagement in general from the consumer market place. I should also add this did not come out of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division. If it had it would have a far greater emphasis on the general market. The Windows Division is outside all of that its own $20 billion juggernaut. We call that power. The slides do highlight the success the iPad is having in the enterprise space as more and more users want access to their corporate networks from their iPad. It’s the reverse of what happened with Windows , which first took off in the business world before penetrating the home. But times have changed and with new devices hitting the market at an ever-increasing pace and a much more affordable price big sea changes in the enterprise often come from the outside in versus the inside out. People want to be cool even when they are in he office. Even if they are an accountant.
Finally the biggest issue I hear these days is people at the Big M are tired of following and not leading (the exception being the xBox team with Kinect). They want to be out in front of the industry. But if you read my last blog on Facebook I highlighted how similar they were to Microsoft, when it was a younger company. Now it’s not like people at Microsoft are really old, no far worse, they are middle-aged. They have kids, they live through their kids, they have divorces, they are joining AA, they buy expensive sports cars, they try really hard physical activities that they used to be able to do, they buy iPads…I think you are getting the picture.
In the mean time the Tablet market keeps chugging along as highlighted in Apples recent earnings announcement. There are other entrants that are also gaining momentum, like Android (we should seem new slide ware shortly). I admit I was skeptical when the iPad came out. I felt like it was just a giant OS, but there is a beauty in having the same core code between your phone and your tablet. The applications are easy to write for both. The iPad seems to be gaining momentum as it creates a scenario where a more powerful device can be useful and mobile. There are a lot of scenario where having a monitor is useful and even desired, but with so much time spent on the web there are a lot of scenarios where it does not, just look at all the useful features of the latest Facebook mobile apps. How many people out there are just checking into their favorite Starbuck’s? I need no mouse or keyboard for that I just need my finger. The only way to compete with iPad is to get ahead of it, but once a boulder starts to slide down a mountain it i s hard to stop.
Good Night and Good Luck!
Hans Henrik Hoffmann January 25th, 2011