Just because they're late to the game doesn't mean they can't pull it together! Admittedly, a cohesive eco system isn't the first thing that pops into mind when thinking of Microsoft, but the few times they've jumped into hardware they have done well. The Xbox, The Xbox 360, and even the surface have all been considered the best in their class by many.
If they can somehow wrangle the divisions together enough to make it actually feel like a vertical system, it could be very good. I suspect they've been thinking of doing this for quite some time as the metro interface is designed to be functional across the entire spectrum of hardware they use.
Microsoft has very high perseverance.. They didnt build the first OS yet they have the most popular OS. They didnt build the first browser yet has the most used browser now. They were very late into gaming consoles, yet beat sony and nintendo and became the leader. Ofcourse that is not the case in Phones yet... but lets wait and see ..
eewiz wrote: [Microsoft] didn't build the first browser yet has the most used browser now.
According to Wikipedia, Google Chrome has higher usage than Explorer. Explorer's share will only decrease as desktop PCs are used less. I'll let others compare Windows usage to Android and iOS, but if they haven't already overtaken Windows I suspect it will happen pretty soon. And if "popular" means that people "like the OS" rather than "are required to use the OS", I suspect that others are far more "popular".
With a family of six, we cycle through computers rapidly. I'm always looking at performance, software, and of course, price. I don't have to buy Microsoft, I choose to. The one Mac that we have is still around but noone chooses to use it. My wife does 95% of her stuff on her phone (android). When the next buy cycle comes around, I'm ready to switch from Android to Windows to get something different. There's somethign to be said for something new and refreshing and MS is poised to provide that product with Windows 8 phones/tablets. I parrot the sentiment "don't count them out yet."
Yes quite agree microsoft is definitely not apple. Both havedifferent business backgrounds. But there is a possibility that due to over done of android usage consumers might gi towards windows phone. There can be a saturation of android.
MS can definitely use Nokia's hardware expertise. XBOX 360 had chronic thermal issues resulting in the notorious "red ring of death." And the Sufrace RT debacle is another example of Microsoft's hardware ineptitude.
I'm unfamiliar with the surface RT's hardware issues. I had absolutely zero interest in RT since it wasn't the full operating system so I wasn't following it. From what I understand, the only hardware issue with the Surface Pro is the short battery life.
I would agree with Rick and add that it is a challenge to overcome competitiors and complete ecosystems that already have critical mass and momentum. You have to leapfrag the competition and that is a monumental task in handsets.
@Caleb: FYI >> Microsoft is working on a new cover that will attach to the Surface and extend the battery life of the device. The optional add-on, known as the "Power Cover," will include an external battery that will help increase the longevity of the device. The combination of a Power Cover and the upcoming Surface Pro 2 should for an all-day computing device, given the tablet's Haswell chip that will already extend battery life. (http://www.neowin.net/news/surface-pro-2-haswell-more-ram-and-a-refined-kickstand)
Companies reinvent themselves all the time, so there's no reason to think Microsoft can't do the same thing.
Apple was always a closed shop, unlike Microsoft, but so what? Apple went almost extinct, until Steve Jobs reinvented it from a very struggling walled garden PC maker to a fashion-trendy gadget company. It did stay "vertically integrated," but that's hardly enough to guarantee success.
Microsoft was just a software house for IBM. Then it became the premier software house for PCs and servers, becoming bigger than the IBM it was serving before. Weir, right? Now it's getting serious about the hand held gadget market, and by all accounts, making decent products in that field. Including the Surface Pro and Windows phone. But it just got started.
It wasn't long ago that the trade press could only gush about iPhones. Now the trade press has come to realize that Android is also a power to contend with, yet even that is a relatively new phenomenon, let's not forget. All Microsoft has to do is stick with it, and trhe marketplace will see another adjustment.
Bert wrote: Now [Microsoft is] getting serious about the hand held gadget market, and by all accounts, making decent products in that field. Including the Surface Pro and Windows phone. But it just got started.
Microsoft is by no means new to the hand-held gadget market. The Zune portable media player was introduced in 2006 and discontinued in 2011. The Kin phone was introduced in 2010 and discontinued within a year. Microsoft has tried to make in-roads in hand-held devices, but has yet to inspire the marketplace.
That may be true, but perhaps they didn't give those products a chance.
The Surface Pro and the Windows phone appear to be competent products, by all accounts I've read. They need to stick it out. You can't expect a 50 percent market share a year or two after product introduction.
I think Rick outlines the challenges Microsoft faces correctly in his questions above.
In other words, the context of the story is not about whether Microsoft will succeed with Surface Pro, etc. (vs. Apple). Rather, a bigger question is if Microsoft will successfully change its tried and tested business model traditionally heavily dependent on its PC OEMs.
Apple never had that problem, because the Cupertino company has always done things on its own (or go it alone).
Meanwhile, Microsoft's past success is built on the Windows-faithful PC OEMs. Now that Microsoft builds its own tablets and phones, the OS giant is positioning itself as a competitor to many of its partner OEMs.
That business model switch is a bigger hurdle Microsoft needs to overcome, more than anything else, in my humble opinion.
Further, managing "partner" OEMs is harder than we all think.
I know this from my humble experience of having worked at JVC -- which inveted VHS but needed help from OEMs to sell VCRs and promote VHS.
Sony also looked to sign up system OEMs adopting Betamax in hopes of presenting a united front of Betamax camp, but the company never managed to get the level of support and commitment from its OEM partners.
The art of managing "partners," and the human psychology behind it, never changes, even after the world has gone digital.
I still don't see that, Junko or Rick. Microsoft is hardly the only company building super portable tablet-like devices with Windows 8, even if it's one of the players in that field. If you consider the Surface Pro as a tablet, then what about Asus, Lenovo, Acer, Razor, HP, etc., who build very similar devices?
I wouldn't assume that just because Microsoft buys Nokia phones, that no one else will be permitted to build a Windows phone. I wouldn't put a negative spin on this, at the outset. Microsoft might very well NOT want to emulate Apple's closed shop environment. Doesn't mean these tablets and phones can't succeed. They seem to have gotten good reviews.
@Bert: My point is that Msoft didn't give OEMs much room to differentiate or add value in the PC Windows days. They held them to logo test and certification programs that had detailed specifications for specific Msoft defined SKUs. Msoft got the lions share of profits. OEMs made razor thin margins.
Now that Msoft itself is in the handset and tablet business I would not want to be one of their OEMs even if they continue an OEM program.
But Microsoft isn't Apple, Rick. They didn't have any control over the OEMs. Matter of fact, in the early days, you could buy all manner of **IBM** clones, and you didn't even have to use MS DOS as the OS. Remember DR DOS, for instance?
And you could run anyone's software on these OSs. Microsoft didn't have to approve it, nor did IBM. That's why these PCs became the industry favorite. Matter of fact, even after Windows became popular, those same PCs can run other OSs, like a whole host of Unix derivatives. This isn't Apple.
Nor does Microsoft force the OEMs to use Intel CPUs.
I don't see anything now that makes this different. I don't see where Microsoft forced Nokia to use only Windows, and I don't see that Microsoft is keeping their Windows phone OS from other OEMs. Just as it isn't keeping Windows 8 from other tablet makers. This ain't Apple.
Is Microsoft suddenly doing an about-face, planning to build a walled garden? I hope not. I haven't seen any indication of this. Margins for the hardware makers are razor thin, but I don't see it's Microsoft makiing it that way.
As to the Beta vs VHS battle, I'm old enough to remember that one. Sony had a big disadvantage right from the start: Beta was orignally only good for one hour, VHS was originally good for two hours. And very soon, many more than just two hours. Practically a no-brainer, for anyone wanting to use these VCRs for time-shift recording.
And also, even if the masses may not have obsessed over these other differences, VHS was designed from the start to support stereo sound, even BEFORE VHS HiFi, whereas Beta did not support stereo until much later, when they too introduced HiFi audio.
And one more. VHS would retract its heads during rewind, whereas Beta would not. This meant head wear and gunking up whenever you had to rewind a tape. Or you had to buy one of those separate rewind boxes.
I know that years down the road, Beta improved on all those fronts. But by then, VHS had won. If other OEMs thought along the same lines as my obsessions of the day, you can see why they picked VHS.
Same can happen here, right? Unless Microsoft does something very uncharacteristic, I don't see why they would want to become a closed shop. Even if they will be one of the hardware players.
@Bert, I am impressed with your good memory and expert knowledge on how VHS vs. Beta battle went down.
Technically speaking, the advantage of two-hour recording built into VHS might have been a "no brainer" for you and for astute engineers. But as far as I could remember, it wasn't easy to convince the world to subscribe to your logigal conclusions at that time.
The business decision (by OEMs, not necessarily consumers) is not always solely based on technical merits. And to this day, I know many engineers and consumers alike who tell me that Betamax was "technically superior" than VHS.
The marketing myth (spins) and corporations' ego (especially egos of business management's at OEMs) can go a long way -- enough to flip the landscape.
Consumers can vote for a product with their own wallet. But creating momentum on the market (and convincing the industry that your product/technology is trending upwards) is not so straightfoward.
Thanks for your post. Why would Microsoft want to become Apple? I use the Windows Phone and it is outstanding. Microsoft only purchased the Nokia's cell phone business; the cell phone business is not Microsoft bread and butter. Microsoft is not in a bad spot. You know, people have been saying this for years. Frist, it was that Microsoft cannot compete with IBM; then they say that Microsoft needs to use the Internet; now it is this. For informational reasons, Nokia was an excellent buy because Nokia own customers in the pay as you go market. This market consists of middle school age students to college students around the world which generates millions of dollars on the back end. Apple is not included. If this is putting Microsoft in a tough spot, sometime tough spots can help management make good judgement decisions. As a matter of fact, I think panthers are knocking on Microsoft door right now. Excellent move Microsoft. Microsoft doesn't need to be an Apple, Microsoft just needs to be Microsoft.
At Uplinq, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs said the deal would be like Google buying Motorola. It gets a devcie maker to help show the world examples of how its OS can be implmented and still maintain an ecosystem of other OEM customers for the OS.
I think he's probably right but I think Msoft will have more trouble than Google doing it for several reasons.