Why Microsoft continues to fail

ZuneHD-MenuOne of the things that continues to annoy me about Microsoft is their constant failures. These failures are not due to product failures. The products they make are pretty solid; no it is because Microsoft fails to understand the market they are competing in. In the Operating system market Microsoft truly only has one competitor. I know I am annoying the Linux guys when I say this but Apple is their only real competition when it comes to the desktop OS. The same thing can be said for their Productivity suite Office. Even Mac owners use Office for Mac. Again I know there are multiple open source office products but even the most popular of them cannot compete with Microsoft sales in this area.

It is because of this that Microsoft has always had a feeling of superiority. They have come to operate on the “if we make it, they will come” style of marketing and business.  They drop a new OS or Office version and that is that. Dell will buy it, HP will, Asus and other likewise. This has led them to be spoiled when it comes to consumers. Even in the console market they are spoiled; their success with the Xbox and Xbox 360 enforced this in a lot of ways.  The made these device and despite problems and the “red ring of death” the XboX 360 is still a top seller.

Where things fall apart is in the mobile market. There was a time when Microsoft was again in competition with one other manufacturer (here I will piss of the Nokia and Symbian people), this was Palm. If you wanted a PDA Phone, you either got one with Windows Mobile or Palm OS. But while Palm worked to change and adapt to the market Microsoft continued to operate in a bubble. They felt that they had the world in their hands. As Palm failed so did Microsoft in many ways. They failed to act, they failed to develop, and they failed to see Apple coming up behind them with a ten pound hammer. Because of this they got slammed by the iPhone and lost serious footing in the mobile market.  

Instead of striking back with a device to compete with the iPhone they came out with kids toys that were not only hideous, but failed to attract anyone ion their intended demographic. I watched as my own kids made fun of the commercials and the phones. Let’s face it, they were terrible. Now Microsoft is struggling to play catch up to both Apple and Google. They can no longer operate on the “if we build it, they will come” philosophy. They must fight and fight now with a compelling mobile OS and design wins that will get people interested.

The problem is that even while they are working on a single platform vertical they are alienating their fan base. Yesterday I heard that Microsoft is discontinuing the manufacture of all Zune Players, this includes the ZuneHD. Instead they say they are going to focus on the mobile phone market. Um… I would love to tell the genius that came up with this idea that they have just lost all of those people that own a Zune or ZuneHD as future customers. There is nothing compelling about Windows Phone 7 that would make anyone move away from an iPhone or an Android phone. But knowing that I can no longer buy a ZuneHD or look forward to an improved model is very disappointing.

Again this was another failure of Microsoft’s. The ZuneHD is one of the best media players I have ever owned. I have tested the iPhone (every generation from the first right up to the iPhone 4), the iPod (both Classic and touch) as well as multiple Android Phones; none of them come close to the audio quality found on the ZuneHD. Unfortunately the ZuneHD was destined to failure, because Microsoft failed to act, again. They failed to market properly, they failed to push the product and the service (which is better than iTunes in many ways) and they failed (once again) to understand just who they were dealing with. It really is sad that these products are going away, when all it would have taken was a small effort on Microsoft’s part to make them a success.

In the end we are seeing another Microsoft product fail because Microsoft failed to do anything to prevent it. I have a feeling that Mango (the next version of Windows Phone) and Windows 8 for AMR based tablets will fail as well. They will fail because Microsoft does not have the imagination, vision or drive to make them succeed.

Let’s hope that someone at Microsoft will see this pattern and maybe make a change in the way they do business otherwise Microsoft might find themselves stuck with nothing but Office, Windows, and the Xbox as working products.

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