Microsoft’s recent announcement it was going to open retail stores next to Apple’s have some of us wondering what exactly are they going to be selling? Zune, Xbox, third party products? Then again the bigger question is WHY? Isn’t Microsoft really a software company? Windows, Word, Excel, Powerpoint!
John Dvorak, MarketWatch’s tech writer has a pretty interesting post where he predicts the company might be in actual decline. His prediction is probably based on Microsoft’s recent earnings report, showing revenues down 17% year-over-year in the same quarter. The reason, he says, is that Microsoft has been distracted over the years by the success of other tech companies in totally unrelated areas often forgetting that it’s a software company whose success was built on operating systems and applications.
This company cannot keep its eye on the ball because there are too many shiny objects to distract it.
… he then goes on to check off 10 “shiny objects” Microsoft has tried to go after … quote:
- Years ago in the pre-Internet era, AOL was the talk of the town, so Microsoft had to copy it with MSN. No money was made; no strategic advantage was gained.
- Netscape was the rage for a while, so Microsoft threw together a browser and got in that business. The browser was given away for free. No money was made; the strategy got the company in trouble with government trustbusters.
- During the early days of the Internet, new online publications appeared. Microsoft decided to become a publisher too, rolling out a slew of online properties including a computer magazine and a women’s magazine. They were all folded.
- Computer books became popular; Microsoft began Microsoft Press. After an early splash and success, the company soon lost interest and the division now languishes.
- Teddy Ruxpin became a hot toy. Microsoft rolled out a couple of robotic plush toys, including the creepy Barney the Dinosaur who sang “I love you and you love me.” The company soon lost interest and dropped the whole thing.
- AOL-TV appeared, along with other device-centric TV-delivery mechanisms in the 1990s. Microsoft created a Microsoft-TV division as well as a device. It soon lost interest.
- Adobe Photoshop became a huge success, so Microsoft hired Alvy Ray Smith to develop photo-editing software. Smith quit when the company lost interest in the idea.
- Yahoo and Google showed that a search engine could be a money maker, so Microsoft copied that idea; it now has Bing.
- Cloud applications are currently trendy, along with notions about software as a service. Microsoft decides to go into that business.
- The Apple rolled out a MP3 player, the iPod. Microsoft came up with its own MP3 player, the Zune. The company also says it wants to stream music.
He may have a point! Focus on the core competencenties instead of being all over the map.