Microsoft’s Failure (s)-essays about Microsoft

Many product development, marketing, and project management programs in the world’s leading universities love to use Microsoft as an example of how not to develop a new product or service and then, subsequently, how not to bring that new product or service to market. While some of Microsoft’s most popular programs such as the Windows operating system and its Microsoft Office suite of business productivity software are extremely successful and extremely profitable, they are increasingly the only areas of the company’s business that are although the Xbox 360 product is somewhat of a success anomaly but only partially so. The fact remains that Microsoft is such a good pinata to use in business schools because it completely fails to understand just how integral a company’s organizational culture is to its creative DNA. For example, product managers and marketing professors love to point out just how much Apple’s success relates to its inherent ability to create and innovate in areas that are increasingly far afield from its original computing platform.

In contrast, Microsoft, which has all the money and capital necessary to create and innovate without equal in the industry continually, fails to do so. The company’s efforts to introduce new products such as the Kin One and Kin Two mobile phones and mobile phone platform which have been recently discontinued after just a few weeks on the market and some 10,000 sold are illustrative of just how much the firm’s executives do not “get it.” This is just a long line of products and services that the firm has thought that it would revolutionize the consumer markets with. For instance, did you know that Microsoft once touted a Smart Watch service it coined SPOT and which would transmit data over FM radio waves to subscribers? Right, I didn’t think so but this product was available on all major online retailing sites such as, among others. Of course you are familiar with Zune, Microsoft’s digital music player, the perennial also-ran in the industry? What about Microsoft Bob which was a program developed in 1995 that was designed to make the Windows platform easier to use for computing novices? Right, customers that wanted a computing platform that was easier to use just bought a Mac and the company’s executives, once again, did get that rather than develop yet another program to interface with a GUI designed to interface with the computer’s underlying OS maybe it should just redesign its GUI—whatever.

Microsoft is the stuff of legend for all the wrong reasons and business school programs love to discuss its market failures like the Playforsure technology that, as it turned out, could not play with anybody’s digital music platform because of the company’s ridiculous digital management software and, in fact, once it was cancelled none of the files could even be played on the company’s new digital music platform which was the Zune. In short, Microsoft seems be mired in endless layers of organizational bureaucracy, be controlled by a top-down mentality, have a product/service development process designed to attempt to manipulate the consumer rather than design based on consumer demand, and to be inordinately focused on maintaining its dominance through proprietary business models.

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