Of course, imitation is part of Microsoft's DNA. Copy something successful, then ram it down people's throats. CP/M becomes MS-DOS, the Mac GUI gets reborn as Windows, though maybe "stillborn" is closer -- it took Redmond 11 years to come up with an interface that approached the Mac's features and simplicity. Intuit's Quicken begets Microsoft Money. The iPod spawns the Zune. And so on down the line.
I'm not saying Microsoft has not come up with some innovations over the last 35 years. I still think Excel is the best software Redmond ever made. The Xbox, Microsoft Surface, Project Natal -- er, Kinect -- are all first rate. But its bread-and-butter strategy continues to be "imitate, then destroy." And that strategy has grown less successful over time.
Now Microsoft has to play catchup to the iPad, as well as the 3,247 Android-based tablets we'll be seeing over the next 12 months. Given how long it's taking Redmond to catch up on cell phones, it may be two years before we see any tablets worth talking about. By then, it will be too late.
Still, this could explain Microsoft's new slogan, unveiled at its annual Microsoft Global Exchange confab last week: Be What's Next. In this case, what's "next" is Apple, a company it seems Microsoft now desperately needs to become.
If you had to create a new slogan for Microsoft, what would it be? Post your thoughts below or email me: email@example.com.