Thursday, 25 October 2012 09:35

Microsoft Is Doing What The "Has Been Giants Of Yesteryear" Were Afraid To Do, Make A Radical Change BEFORE ITS TOO LATE! Featured

Roughly 3 years ago in my "mobile computing wars" series, I foretold of The Creatively Destructive Pace of Technology Innovation and the Paradigm Shift known as the Mobile Computing Wars! In particular, I warned of the benefits to the consumer and pitfalls to the potential losers of the battle between Apple, Microsoft and Google, reference There Is Another Paradigm Shift Coming in Technology and Media: Apple, Microsoft and Google Know its Winner Takes All. By the way, by Q1 2010, it was already evident to BoomBustBloggers that Research In Motion was a goner - ). While the bulk of my opinion and analysis was directed between the upcoming heated battle between Apple and Google (The Mobile Computing and Content Wars: Part 2, the Google Response to the Paradigm Shift and An Introduction to How Apple Apple Will Compete With the Google/Android Onslaught) which was accurately called, I also appeared to be the lone gunman in warning that Microsoft is not even close to being out of the race just yet - . This was early 2010. Well, nearly 3 years later, we have MSFT doing what IBM, LOTUS, HP, DELL, and a wide variety of other tech companies simply didn't have the balls to do. What is that, you ask? They risked cannibalizing their cash cow revenues and kicking their lazy, unmotivated (despite declining margins and market share, via ass whoopin's from Google and Apple) OEM's in the nuts, forcing either an exponential growth via a pheonix-like rebirth style wake-up call or a collapse from atrophy. Either way, Microsoft is attempting to position itself to benefit. The previous world tech rulers simply got too comfortable in their make money by doing nothing, cash cow, monopolistic business lines and sat around while more innovative and nimble competitors literally ate their lunch then came bombarding in demanding dinner as well (say Apple).

Well, this is a good time (albeit a risky one) for MSFT. With revenues and margins declining on a structural basis for the first time (in its history) it is actually attempting to reposition itself to lead in the fastest growing segment in technology, not to mention the segment that is currently eating its lunch. That is the ultra mobile computing segment. Windows phone is a work in progress, and while capable from a software perspective, still lacks the downright killer hardware and flexibility of Android high end devices an also lacks the cult-like following and brand loyalty of Apple's devices. It's a shame since MSFT was actually in this space early, nearly first. Actually, it was early in smart phones, right behind Nokia and Psion (both European companies) and was first in actual usable (arguably) tablets - both in the early 1990's. It that monopolistic apathy that allowed Apple to come from behind with relatively dumbed down tech and outgrow Microsoft. The Surface Tablet is MSFT's revenge though. CNet calls it the best productivity app yet...

Like the Galaxy Note 2 clearly makes the iPhone appear to be a toy rather than a useful device, the Surface does the same to the iPad.

 I noticed that many pundits pan the Surface for its lack of available apps. The Surface is a 1st gen product, and it does lack a wealth (or even a moderate amount) of 3rd party apps. What seems to be overlooked is that MSFT has built the Surface around the most in demand, the most profitable, and the least likely to be accurately replicated apps in the industry - the ubiquitous Microsoft Office Suite of apps. To assert that the Surface doesn't have any apps when it ships with the latest and the only touch-centric version of this app suite is to totally miss the point of the product. Let's be serious here- the iPad, and most Android tablets (save the Asus Transformer series) is/are useless for true productivity where content creation (sans drawing on a screen) and productivity are concerned. They come nowhere near PC replacements. Even those products that can come near (such as the Transformer Prime) lack a truly accurate reproduction of the office suite that is used in 90% of the workplaces world wide. As this Bloomberg article states: Microsoft’s Surface Tablet Lacks Apps to Rival IPad

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) will be constrained in a contest against Apple Inc. (AAPL) in the market for handheld computers by unveiling a tablet that doesn't work with some of the most widely used downloadable applications. The Surface RT, a tablet that runs the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system and goes on sale tomorrow, won’t feature applications for Facebook Inc. (FB)’s social-networking service or Apple’s iTunes music store.

One can combine the profits (and daily users) from Facebook and iTunes, double the sum, and you probably wouldn't get to half the profits of the Office franchise. True Office compatibility is what is holding back those who spend the truly big bucks in both the consumer and the enterprise side from adapting tablets en masse and truly dropping the desktop or notebook form factor PC for good. Comparing Facebook and iTunes to Office is like comparing a go kart to a minivan. Anyway you look at it, factoring superior build quality, pleasing aesthetics, and most importantly, something you can actually use to get work done, Microsoft has released a truly credible threat to the Android/Apple franchise in the tablet space - I still remain unconvinced in the phone space (where Android is killing them), but the jury is still out and the curtains don't' close till the calorically challenge chick

The Surface is being touted as a full PC (Ballmer: Microsoft Surface 'Literally a Full PC), and it appears as if there's some credibility to that. It will be very interesting to see what Google's response is (they have purchased a popular mobile phone/tablet office suite to bolser their current Google Apps/Drive cloud storage offering. Bundling this into both high end tablets and thier upcoming $99 offerings with ultra thin keyboard covers would be just what the doctor offered for both the enterprise and the student markets. Unfortunately, I feel Apple's hubris may be their shortcoming, for the iPad-mini is a disappointment, and appears to be simply an answer to the Nexus 7 and Amazon tablet, overpriced to avoid the margin compression inevitably coming down the pike (). The same appears to go for the iPhone 5, for I feel they should have packed much more tech into that device. It is so far behind the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and S3 (roughly two years behind) that the only real sales they will get will come from extreme brand loyalty or from those who have never tried the Samsung and other competing Android products. While this may permit Apple to grow at impressive rates, basically they will start to simply cannibalize their existing user base and many new users will opt for the best and the newest tech. Apple may feel "Blackberried" or "RIMM"ed sooner than expected.

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