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If Microsoft Is Going To Be In The Dunk Contest, They Gotta Be Funky To Win. October 30, 2010

Posted by geek-ish.com in Tech.
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I love Microsoft. Not luv, but love.  Microsoft set the bar high for personal computing and changed all our lives in ways we all easily take for granted now.  ‘Nuff said – about that.  With that said, I think lately Microsoft has been trying too hard to protect existing product lines by releasing “safe” products that look cool but don’t dazzle enough to impact the general public buzz enough to make people buy their stuff.  Here’s what I mean: http://www.geeks.com/pix/2010/HEOMCS_2UP3.html.  This is Android running on a 7 inch tablet.  Why isn’t that WP7?

Everyone knows why.  They’re cheap.  These tablets kinda lower the bar for personal computing, at least they lower the bar pricewise.  Everyone’s afraid of that.  That fear is killing Microsoft’s ability to be luved.  Microsoft’s R&D is suffering a PR battle right now.  It’s not real.  It’s perceived.  It’s perceived that Microsoft can’t make buzz-worthy products.  It’s ridiculous.  But it’s happening.  Microsoft wants to be sexy like Steve, and funky like Google.  They don’t want to be Bill anymore.  They want to be on the highlight reels of jacks like me and not be praised in well-researched, well-written, professional media about technology futures.  I guess I understand why that could matter to Microsoft.  Real media has written that Microsoft’s ability to stay positioned as THE preeminent software & technology company for consumers is at real risk.  But IF that’s true, then it’s hard to understand why Microsoft would not target WP7 to be the OS-of-choice for 7-inch, under $300 tablets in time for Black Friday and this Christmas season.  7-inch tablets are the next hot thing, the next Dunk Contest.  If you’re going to be in the Dunk Contest, why not try to win?  Nobody ever remembers any round other than the final round of the Dunk Contests, and only the winner really gets to walk away with his “swag” intact.  If 7-inch tablets are the latest Dunk Contest and IF Microsoft urgently needs to win a Dunk Contest to stay relevant, then not having WP7 on a 7-inch tablet for Christmas is practically unfathomable in a year when Steve’s iPad highlights are still buzzing and Google’s Android had a fantastic year of growth and at least made it to the Dunk Contest.

I know, I know – 7-inch tablets are too cheap.  They could tank laptop and desktop sales this Christmas.  I know this.  I’ve heard it all before when I opined about netbooks.  But just like netbooks, their cheap life will likely be short lived and they could create a new niche in the personal computing landscape.  A new, one trick pony, “disposable” pc appliance.  All these products will be long forgotten in 3-5 years.  Or at least they won’t be cool anymore.  Remember iPods?  Exactly.  Microsoft wasted all that energy to release Zune, a  more feature-rich product, just to compete with the iPod.  Well, the Zune was nice, maybe even “niiice”.  Yet not niiice enough to win the Dunk Contest, and after getting so much hype about having its own portable media player, it looked like Zune  & Microsoft lost that Dunk Contest.  That perceived loss really hurt Microsoft’s swag, and Apple’s swag went through the roof.  Even more important to this point of ‘Win the Dunk Contest if you’re going to be in it’:  Microsoft never added the killer feature to the Zune, the Zune phone feature.  The Zune teased with its network capabilities; every supporter frothed at the idea of a Zune Phone or at least the idea of having a portable media device that could connect & exchange with other users. Sadly & hurtfully, the Zune Phone was never to be.  And here’s the kicker – the missing Zune Phone feature WAS eventually developed, but not by Microsoft…  Ever heard of the iPhone?  Exactly.

Yet all in all, so what?  IMHO, I’m not sure if losing swag battles really matters for strong business’ long-term success.  IBM’s stock price looks great.  IBM is rolling as strong as ever.  Yet it seems only professional finance & tech bloggers, their followers, and folks with stock trading accounts love IBM.  There is no luv for Big Blue.  No luv, just love.  That’s the point, Microsoft seems to care about being luved.  They don’t want to become IBM (even if they already are well on their way).  They want to be sexy like Steve, and funky like Google.  They don’t want to be Bill anymore.  Sad for loyal followers like me, but we understand.  All nerds understand what Microsoft is going through.  Microsoft is trying to go from being nerds to being geeks.  Nerds subscribe.  Geeks date.  Lol (but serious).  Nerds want to analyze how to dunk so they understand how muscles accelerate and contribute power to the body segments during the ground contact phase of jumping.  Geeks just try to dunk, so they’ve read the abstract about that muscle acceleration, followed the blogger who tweeted about “Concept 1’s”, hit the treadmill HARD, and are trying to find some “Concept 1’s” just so they can dunk.  Dunking is about swag, and swag is hard work for real nerds.  Lol (but serious x2).

Whatever.  The point still is why didn’t Microsoft target WP7 to be the OS-of-choice for 7-inch, under $300 tablets in time for Black Friday and this Christmas season.  This is a BIG year (both economically and politically) to watch the Christmas season.  Change came with the amazing President Obama.  But change-back is looming.  Another topic at another time (maybe).  In any case, I think people could gobble up these 7-inch tablets the day after Thanksgiving Turkey Day, so why haven’t I seen WP7 running on one?  I don’t know.  I’m a first generation Zune owner (happily), but even I don’t know.  I have held off buying a smartphone and a tablet waiting to see what would be ready for Xmas, but I still don’t know.  What I do know is I’m probably going to buy a 7-in tablet for Xmas running something other than Windows Phone Series 7.  And that just feels like the wrong way to love.

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