Now Mark is a pretty smart guy but I get the “I hate it when you’re right” speach every other day from people that deal with me (as opposed to “OMG, you’re not a total ass I imagined!” that I get every day). It really pains me when you look at some of my posts and make it out like I was the first one to call the date of Christ’s return.
This stuff was apparent and obvious to everyone in this sector a long time ago. Yet, when I wrote that post I got slammed as I usually do. So let’s rewind:
Google emerges among Microsoft’s inability to dominate the Internet through its closed software and closed standards. Majority adopts open source and open standards, Google gives everything away for free and just drops a few ads on the side that nobody seems to mind. Google becomes a dominant force in the fight for Internet eyeballs, starts moving the software it beta tests on the consumers into universities and into companies. It starts building its suite off easy to use products while Microsoft suffers embarrasing product releases, support, pricing schemes and PR problems. Everyone except the privacy advocates love Google, hating Microsoft turns into a dominant smartphone, major switch PR campaign and disenfranchised partner ecosystem that sees a sunset to its business process as everyone enters the fight for the SMB customer.
And then that sound of inevidability, that nobody likes to believe is very loud for everyone to hear: Big companies like working with big companies.
You see companies hedging their bets and teaming up with one another for the be all end all goal of owning the largest piece of the audience – with it, their entertainment dollars, business dollars, service dollars, ecommerce dollars and so on. The race is on, current business models are changing at the top and that is something to pay attention to.
Yet, my dear peers beat me up when I said everyone needs to go to attend WWPC if they want to be at the front of the pack. Everyone discounts the posts about Google when the conversation about SMB is taking place. Everyone laughs when I talk about Microsoft..
Yet, Karl and I sat there at WWPC during Steve Ballmers keynote and watched him outline a 3 year plan to replace the only advantage IT solution providers in SMB sector currently have: direct access to the customer.
What’s your move? More importantly, who is yo daddy?
Update: I feel compelled to admit that I left one thing out:
This move does not make Microsoft the devil, they happen to be the victim in the current arrangement. Yes, even with 30 billion a quarter, their future looks grim. Their online services division loses a billion a year and they have made far too many enemies in every segment and every industry and each day makes them look worse while Google and Apple can seem to do no wrong. Microsoft is given 0 benefit of the doubt, while Leopard has worse troubles than Vista ever had, iPhone is more closed than anything Microsoft ever put together and guess who is the saint and who is the devil in that equation.
People are speculating that Microsoft needs to buy Yahoo to stay relevant in the Web 2.0 race. They are investing in Facebook. They are trying to do everything they can to remain on top and keep their investors sitting on their hands. If you invested in Google a year ago, your money would have doubled. If you did the same for Apple, your money would have tripled. Microsoft, you’d be lucky to cover the trade comission.
Microsoft has no friends. It has no loyal friends either – Dell is selling Linux and Solaris, Intel is powering their main competitors…. and in turn, as an organization it must do what it has to in order to grow, prosper and keep people from pulling their money out of Nasdaq: MSFT.
In the grand scheme of things, Microsoft just got a huge friend in Comcast and hedged its bets against its competitors in Google.
It’s a great day for Microsoft.
Sucks if you’re their partner that just saw the Software+Services replace your competitive advantage.