Alright. Maybe I was a little harsh in the last post. But I promise I’m not heartless. Even though I believe there were a lot of crucial missteps on behalf of Microsoft, I can also see their perspective. There is a need for competition in the closed-systems smartphone market. There is a need for better cohesion in closed systems. It’s just a matter of playing the game well – and smart – enough.
The bottom line: there is still hope. More specifically, I believe there is still hope for Microsoft.
Innovation is Not Dead
Remember AOL? Dial-up modems? Palm Pilots? Floppy disks?
To throw in the towel and declare that innovation in a certain market is over is a mistake, and every entrepreneur knows it. But the thing with innovation is that it’s exactly that – innovative. Good, strategic innovation has to at least change the rules ever-so-slightly – not too much that people fear the change, and yet dramatically enough for people to take notice. In order to change consumer habits, innovation – especially in the smartphone market – needs to cause people to stop and say, “Hey – this is clearly better.”
Innovation is not dead in the smartphone market – I’d say it’s just beginning – and Microsoft should be able to think through their smartphone product to create a somewhat different paradigm.
Monopoly is only fun if you’re winning, and if you’re the consumer, you’re usually not winning when a company has the monopoly on a market. Apple has arguably earned their place as the king of closed systems, but there’s no reason it can’t be challenged. If Microsoft finds the right strategy, it could become a game-changer.
We need a little closed-system competition – for the sake of the consumer and at the very least, to ensure that Apple stays on their “A” game.
In the last post, I was very fond of the phrase, “too little, too late,” but Microsoft could use their late arrival to their advantage. It’s possible that Apple and Android feel invincible, and now could be Microsoft’s chance to come in from [way] behind and make a sneak attack. Microsoft should take bold chances – and I’d say, the bolder, the better.
You know what they say – “Never underestimate the element of surprise!”
The Secret Weapon
Microsoft could also gain an edge by jumping on the biggest chance they have: INTEGRATION. People are still looking for a cohesive way to jump between tablet and phone and computer without searching for their information, and neither Apple nor Google has successfully wielded this “secret weapon” (although they sure are trying).
Dan Lyons, technology editor at Newsweek, said in regards to this type of integration, “So far, no tech company can deliver this [type of integration]. But Microsoft has all the pieces. It just needs to bring them together.” And if anyone can speak with authority on this subject, it would be Lyons. He recently conducted an experiment in which he used only Microsoft products for a month. His conclusion? Well, I’d recommend reading the full article, but I especially liked his ending insight. He acknowledged that despite being impressed by Microsoft, he wasn’t about to switch his iPhone for a Windows phone; however…
“…later this year or early next, when Lenovo comes out with that slick Windows 8 tablet-slash-laptop, I might just buy one. That’s how change begins. That’s how Apple won people over, including me, over the past decade. It started with iTunes and an iPod. Then I got frustrated with Windows and tried out a low-end Mac Mini. That worked, so I made the leap to an iMac. Then an Apple TV box. Then a MacBook Pro. Then an iPhone. And on and on. So that’s what Microsoft needs to do. Find a product that gives it a toehold and build from there.”
So, Microsoft: hope is not lost. As harsh as the smartphone landscape may appear – and even as harsh as I may have been in the previous post – I firmly believe that you have a fighting chance.
And I can’t wait to see what you do with it.
- How do you think Microsoft can “come back swinging” with a fighting force?
- What is Microsoft’s best bet when it comes to strategy to win the market?
- Do you think there is still hope for Microsoft, or are you more apt to agree with the previous post?