One thing I completely overlooked in my original MS Strategy post was the change in audience. In the past couple of decades Microsoft has focused on a very specific audience. That audience is changing…and the Microsoft developer community always rallies behind the new audiences….
Now maybe it’s because the business world is changing, or simply because Microsoft finally realized the huge gaping void of medium sized businesses. Granted cost has always been an issue for the smaller companies, but the number of smaller companies who can afford to be networked has drastically changed since the days of Windows NT 3.5! Most companies have internal networks already (switches at best buy are under $100) and they all need to advertise and/or communicate with online services to be cost effective. Even the mom and pop gift shops manage their packages through online services. The access they have by being online is described in Freidman’s The World Is Flat and the new markets all of these companies are serving are described in Anderson’s The Long Tail, so I won’t get into “what changed in the economy”, but I will get into what Microsoft is doing….
The audience that Microsoft is sprinting after? yes, it’s the same audience that Google is sprinting after (along with other companies closer to home for me)….somewhere in-between the online consumer and the big enterprise business. These businesses are popping up all over the place and are destined to stay small. Nathan calls them lifestyle businesses, just like the corner grocery store or specialty shop….these small 5-125 person businesses can pop up at the drop of a domain registration and actually feed the families of the people working there. The ideas can go from coffee, to meeting a coder at a lunch 2.0, to meeting an investor at an entreprenurial event, to needing a google app domain or a microsoft live domain…..to people quiting day jobs and needing conferencing services, robust email services, accounting applications, crm applications, etc…..yes along with every other app you run in your 10k person company. The key difference though is that the same online application suite that works for the 5-125 person company…. works just as well all the way up to your 10k user company that is trying to cut costs to continue offering a healthy lifestyle to your employees.
With a new audience like that it’s much more obvious why MS “wastes” $1b on the game system that these devs with great ideas are playing in college…or struggles to let Ozzie reshape the entire company….and why it’s important to have brand recognition on music players, phones, etc….these kids need to be thinking about MICROSOFT when the choice between MS and Google are the only two choices for their personal office suite in high school and college, and again when they need to make a decision on which technology services their company will use…