Ever notice you almost never hear about marketing and Microsoft? The reason is simple: Microsoft doesn’t need to “sell” anything. Businesses and people buy Windows because it’s Windows, buy Microsoft Office for the same reason, and then … well, that’s it. Does Microsoft even have a marketing department?
Addressing this needs to be business change job #1 at Microsoft. The Windows brand has plenty of life left in it, but that’s mostly a corporate thing; real people are defecting to Apple Macintosh in droves, and even dumping “computers” altogether in favor of tablets and SmartPhones. And even in that corporate market the Office brand is in trouble; Google Docs and other free on-line services are just fine for most people and businesses, thank you very much.
Microsoft has rebooted their SmartPhone effort, and in Windows Phone 7.5 come up with something that’s not fully baked, but at least worth considering, or so says my old buddy David Pogue. Cool, Dave. Thanks for pointing that out. But the question is: do you care?
Just as “no-one ever got fired for choosing IBM” back in the day, nor in trouble for selecting Microsoft on the desktop, SmartPhones have evolved to be covered by a marketing mindset that leaves (really) just two choices: you go with iPhone, or you go Android. Seriously, why would you buy a WindowsPhone? I mean, reviewers like Pogue make it sound pretty cool, but … really?
I’m a Windows guy. I’m surrounded by Mac people and I stay a Windows guy because I’m comfortable with it, have some programs that rely on it, and as a semi-geek find the way it works more comfortable that I do using Apple computers. I play with Ubuntu every now and again, by the way, and it isn’t exactly OK either (refer again to the statement about programs). But I don’t need a WindowsPhone SmartPhone, certainly not when there are a gazillion apps for Android or iPhone and so far almost none for Microsoft’s offering.
And remember, I actually considered switching to iPhone a few weeks ago. Unlike the uncrackable small business market, I can be sold to.
Microsoft, I applaud that you’ve recognized the need to change the way you look. But now you need to change how you think of those of us you’re trying to sell to. You may not understand long-tail marketing, but unless you figure out what you’re really selling and why anyone should care, WindowsPhone, like the cool-enough-but-now-dead Zune music player, will go … nowhere.
And if we can’t take lessons from Microsoft, where can we get our lessons?