Thomas Hazlett writes a provocative article titled Is Microsoft toast? Excerpts with heavy edits, cross references and my views added:
Apple, finally price competitive with PCs, and offering software used interchangeably with other programs, the company is staging a run. Apple’s share of the US desk top computers market was up by half from 2003 to 2004.That share is still low – just 3 per cent for desk tops, about twice that for notebooks – but a much bigger run may be in the offing. Apple, with its tight, integrated interfaces cinching hardware to software has proven powerfully resistant to viruses and spyware, the poisonous infections of the Internet. Microsoft users scramble to update their software with the latest patches, frantically downloading anti-viral software, running and re-running spyware disinfectants. With the Mac offering equally proficient word processing, presentations, spread sheets, web browsing and email, along with the standard multi-media applications, many look at Apple as a credible alternative.
A new "browser war" has been launched in the form of Firefox.We covered the viewpoint Firefox is to IE, What IE was to Netscape,wherein we covered the raise of Firefox. Customers are embracing Mozilla because it navigates the web faster than I.E., is free to download, and resistant to spyware.The threat, just as with Netscape (and its embedded Java script) a decade ago, is that valuable functions will gradually shift away from Microsoft’s domain – including, in the end, the operating system itself. This application creep happens so easily – like Google -providing a new and improved search engine, splices in a few well-targeted ads, and is now capitalized at $50bn. Microsoft, despite ‘owning’ the software on which the applications run, did not get here first. We also covered the threat perception to microsoft in the piece Bandwidth is microsoft's enemy where we looked at the challenges and opportunities for Microsoft in the high bandwidth world.The range of product innovation chipping away at the large, increasingly vulnerable incumbent is impressive, and the diversity of organizational innovation more so. Apple is today on the upsurge because its personal computing systems have been vacuum-sealed, and because the company has – to the point of fetish – delighted in producing its own devices. Its dominance challenged, Microsoft is trying hard to come back – with a new, more bug-resistant Internet Explorer web browser, with vastly expanded email (Hotmail and MSN) offerings, and an array of intensive counter measures. This looming competitive Armageddon may well rock Microsoft to its core, it most certainly will produce a new bundle of benefits for consumers.
My Take: Microsoft appears to be losing customer centricity and their cultural DNA seems to be moving away from incremental innovation –particularly with the windows platform and their inexplicable delay in rolling out Longhorn are clear indications of losing steam. Microsoft will take decades to be out of business as their product basket of offering is wide – and some niches may still save the company- We have written earlier that Microsoft has made impressive strides in the CES market- we covered Russ's viewIts game over for microsoft's competitors in the CES space, but also note that they are not able to shine in the areas of search, blogging etc.. We also covered earlier Microsoft dropping the passport initiative clearly a demonstartion of not being able to make it work well enough despite its size and pursuing a powerful idea at hand. I am still baffled why Microsoft (other than for being selfish about its interest) as to why Microsoft is not considering providing a hosted solution - when enteprise application software vendors are beginning to provide and stepping up aggression in pushing. Microsoft may end up to be a palse shadow of its present –that would be sad indeed – but the risk is indeed high for Microsoft. Microsoft is lucky that currently there is no one alternative that can dislodge it in key arena's - starting particularly in the desktop segment..
Category : Microsoft