Compared to Apple's news that Siri will soon be able to talk you out of traffic tickets, Microsoft's headlines for the start of the week are a serious downer. Another flagrantly missed market opportunity, a tepid product enhancement, default promotions, and executive departures are countered by only one semi-positive announcement in Forbes' annual list of who amassed the biggest money pile.
For starters, take Apple's new CarPlay, surely the next trend to which Microsoft applies its tried-and-true innovation strategy: watch others invent it and succeed, then build a sad version 1 competitor, and year after year thereafter, slowly crawl into the No. 2 or No. 3 spot with the ever-present lotto-luck possibility of leading the segment for a few minutes.
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To be fair, Microsoft tried the concept of smarter cars first via Microsoft Sync, a deal brilliantly predicated on an exclusive relationship with Ford. Both companies claim the platform is a huge success, though Ford doesn't market it much and people tend to forget Microsoft even offers it. However, insiders claim that more than 50 people are actively using it. In fact, the deal has been so successful, Ford is considering dropping Microsoft in favor of technology from a robust and promising leader in the mobile market: BlackBerry.
Siri, what is a winning strategy?
Apple, on the other hand, foolishly made an open deal with multiple car companies (including Ford), had tied its product to a successful brand and technology (iOS), and even made sure you buy more of its products by relegating CarPlay solely to compatibility with the iPhone 5. I think Microsoft should watch this segment because it sounds like a real loser for Apple. It should be supereasy to dominate a few years from now.
In other product news, the SharePoint team is announcing Project Oslo this week at its conference in Las Vegas. Oslo is another exciting technology that Microsoft says will promote the wonderfully vague goal of "enhanced collaboration and team building." It's a supposedly benign Big Brother for the workplace that'll watch the work you do, with whom you do it, and which Microsoft tools you use to "get things done," so it can "better connect you" to the people and information you need the most.
If you're wondering why this not only gives you a headache but also sounds familiar, it's because Microsoft used the same marketing message for on-premises SharePoint Server 2013. Now, Oslo aims to bring it to the off-premises Office 365 version because as Microsoft VP Jeff Teper puts it in clear, buzzword-free language, "We're optimizing on the cloud." I'm sure there are absolutely no Office 365 product managers in Vegas trying to get hammered enough to forget the shambles their professional lives have become.