Muhammad Karim

Can Microsoft survive the Apple onslaught?


Apple has established itself on a very premium platform — all style, design and brilliant functionality. After the iPod, the brand image has hardly seen even the slightest decline in its brand equity. The launch of the iPhone and the Macbook Air, with all the flair of Steve Jobs as he cleverly launched them during his presentations, has earned Apple the title of The Golden Boy (Brand?) of the Web 2.0 era.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has lost its brand image due to the same elements which had elevated Apple. By pushing flawed, incomplete software and very complicated pricing (Professional vs. Home vs. Enterprise), the element which is at the core of Microsoft’s brand decline is its product. Later releases of bug-fixes and patches only further irritate consumers and last, but most importantly, they haven’t catered to their target market by releasing any new innovation of true value.

In today’s tech-savvy and marketing–savvy world, the image upgrade, which they’ve tried with all the bright and shiny communication, is not going to fool anyone. A bad product, even after shining and polishing it, is still a bad product.

Right now, the Microsoft brand is in a really bad spot and my question is… Does Microsoft have what it takes to bounce back in the game with some real innovation? Or is this the beginning of the end?

  • http://www.techleader.co.za/stii Stii Pretorius

    Please, please, PLEASE let it be the beginning of the end!

    Microsoft’s success lies not with its software, but with its sheer market domination. If you look at Internet Explorer which is a really bad browser, then you’d be amazed that it still dominates the market!

    I don’t think Microsoft would really see any kind of end. They might loose a chunk of market share, but that could be gained again if they do it right sometime in the near future. The question still is, what are they planning to do?

  • http://karim.co.za/blog/ Muhammad

    I hope it either kills Microsoft or it jacks them up enough to step up to the plate and deliver some really good innovation. Whether a new product or software. If it is software though, they’ll have to have at least some of it open-source because that’s just the way the market is, and it’s the most efficient way because all problems get solved very quickly. Also, nobody is going to keep buying crappy software which they have to update with patches all the time. In today’s fast-paced world nobody has time for that nonsense… just give us Stuff that works!

  • http://www.startupafrica.com/ Ismail

    Guys hate to break it to you, but MS is going to be dominating for much longer. Ill write up a post on this.

  • Jonno Cohen

    I’m not sure Microsoft is in such a bad place. Sure, on the OS and browser front they’ve taken some bashing, but they’re still there and dominant.

    They’ve also shown signs of innovation and openness in the last few years. IE is way better than it was in supporting web standards, and it’s been helped by their developers’ blogs documenting the process. In the gaming market they’ve done really well with XBOX and Halo etc, which help the coolness factor. Their Surface multitouch table has some great technology and they presented a mindblowing demo of various image library type techonology at the last TED conference.

    The point is, the MS brand might be a long way off from where they’d like it to be, but they may have already made the first few steps in the right direction, and nobody doubts that they have the resources to pull it off.

    Ultimately we would probably all benefit if Microsoft got their brand right…

  • simon

    Apple, like Microsoft, is a proprietary platform – the reason that Apple works is that they have sensibly stuck to a proprietary hardware and O/S mix that actually works, whereas Microsoft has tried to produce a platform that does absolutely everything and consequently does nothing well. I have run IT budgets over the years where we have spent millions supporting MS operating systems and products (and yes, I’ve been through all the TCO models and arguments). UNIX, on the other hand, works very well.

    The future HAS to be open source. We live in a world where people are much more tech-savvy than they used to be (I got introduced to computers as an adult – my kids have been playing with them for years) and we can re-invent the model on different platforms. These days, I can do 80% of what I need on a smartphone, and I only need an actual PC to deal with large documents or speadsheets – and then, only for the larger screen and keyboard. Indeed, when I travel, a smartphone, a couple of memory-sticks and (maybe) a portable harddrive is all that is needed – I can take the documents and presentations that I need into workshops on the memory stick, and so on. In my ideal world, I should be able to wirelessly connect my phone to a larger screen (say the plasma/LCD at home or the TV in a hotel room) to edit the docs and spreadsheets and use the phone as my computer for emails, documents, messaging etc. I’m getting to the point where I actually do most of my stuff on the mobile platform. And I’m not a geek – but phones are reliable, always on and always with me. I may be in a minority, but humans don’t multi-task – we can only interface with one app at a time, even though we may have several open.

    I have changed from a Microsoft fan to actually hating the company. They produce rubbish and charge the earth for it.

  • http://spiderblack.co.za khathutshelo

    MS is going to be around for a very long time. Sure they have serious problems, but they also have some exciting tech in their arsenal.

    Think XNA, XBOX 360 and ASP.NET. I am have written app in PHP and ASP.NET, at this point I am strictly .Net and C#. It works for me, thats all I can say.