The bit bait and switch - Why Microsft is losing in mobile and web
Microsoft did (and still does) well when software is based on the premium business model. Buy an upfront license and in some cases pay annual maintenance to get the latest version. No ads, no ulterior motives, no quid pro quo (your information for software).Apple disrupted with the ipad (after arguably failing with the mac) offering the OS for free with premium-priced hardware. Google again disrupted with Android and maps, offering completely free software / services without being locked to high-priced hardware. Youtube offered ad-free video that skated copyright laws with a don't ask don't tell hands-off approach. Google is seen as the Robin hood of the internet, the good guy.The mobile battle has arguably already been lost by Microsoft, but they still can't utilize their huge market share in desktop and enterprise to get ahead; I would argue it's because they won't embrace (seemingly) free software. Let me explain - the web is dominated by companies that have done or are in the process of doing an impressive series of 'bait and switch'. Facebook, Twitter, youtube, google shopping etc. All these companies started as free services, asking nothing, offering you something great. You could freely 'like' a company on facebook without spamming your friends with ads. You could sit around the monitor and watch cat videos on youtube without being forced to watch an increasing number of ads. But you don't care, right? The services need to be paid for, ads make sense. We accept that we were drawn and grew these services based on them being free and awesome, but accept all the ads now. But we are free to leave, right? Vote with your feet / wallet? Not so fast. You can't really go back to myspace, none of your friends are there. You have to convince them all they've been scammed by the internet and they should move to some other service. Once they ask you to take off your tinfoil hat, they'll tell you that it's a pain to change and that they'll happily accept the ads etc. because it's the path of least resistance, they are used to facebook, youtube etc. And the ads aren't THAT bad. But none of them signed up for it. What ya gonna do right? EXACTLY. Back to Microsoft. They refuse to advertise the free Office web services in the fear that it will be eat into their paid office business. They don't really want to promote Nokia and Windows Phone, because they make more licensing dollars from HTC selling a windows phone. They really don't like Mobile, because they can't be competitive unless they give away the software. They need to embrace the new business models or they'll rot. They can't make money out of Bing because it costs them more money to acquire customers than they make. It's got to be a confusing time to be an MS exec.They are the proverbial frog in the boiling water - just like customers of modern web companies - slowly getting boiled. Not quite like the burning platform, but their answer is the same. They need to start making mobile free (and working out how to make money later) or slowly rot. OEM's aren't going to use Windows RT when Android is free and more popular. Customers aren't going to pay more for Windows RT. The days of people paying a premium for office are numbered. Microsoft - you need to make mobile free to play ... and embrace the 'bait and switch' - otherwise you'll slowly boil.