The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson
I had to drop off the emergency Gillmor Gang last night before I had a chance to give my thoughts on the Microsoft / Yahoo deal. Not only did Steve call an emergency Gang, but it looks like the blogosphere did as well. Anyway, here is what I think:
All bad for Yahoo
- Yahoo fought the deal, lost a bunch of key employees, increased “golden parachutes” for employees, etc. While Yahoo didn’t ask for a takeover bid, it was pretty clear Ballmer was going to go after Yahoo again. Jerry Yang should have been ready, but wasn’t. His response was to take measures which make it harder for the company to do business as an independent.
- Yahoo’s stock price is about to plummet. My guess is well below its price before this all started.
- And, investor lawsuits.
Mixed for Microsoft
- Ballmer spent a lot of time and money on this and came up short. Unless he had the secondary goal of sabotaging Yahoo this was just a waste of time and money. Clearly he thought he could get it done, but he didn’t, and he failed there.
- Merging the companies together would have been very difficult culturally — and I think a long hard slog for everybody involved. Good thing this is avoided.
- Microsoft still needs to jumpstart their advertising revenues. It really isn’t clear how they do this. Live Mesh is a longer term play for building a stick and highly compelling services platform. This will convert to ad revenue, but not very quickly.
The real issue for Microsoft is how to convert the (still strong) Office / Windows revenues into a sustainable and growing advertising platform.
What I think Microsoft needs to do now:
- Robert Scoble says that Live is a damaged brand. Building cool services won’t fix this on its own. Microsoft needs to fix this by defining Live in a way that is clear. Live can’t be all things to all people! Define it.
- Windows Vista is a damaged brand. While this is slightly off the topic of a services platform, it is dead center on the Microsoft definition of S+S. They need to fix this. The whole “Vista Ready” fiasco really informs what Microsoft did wrong here. Number one priority for Microsoft on Vista should be to make it as performant and stable as XP.
- Wait. Keep building out their very cool services and dev platform. Get a Silverlight Office out. Keep an eye on Yahoo. Maybe after Yahoo gets hammered, the economics will make sense.
Microsoft clearly has had a two-pronged strategy here: build and buy. Buy is out for now — as it isn’t clear what other acquisitions get Microsoft what they need — but build is going like crazy. The problem with build alone is that it only works accompanied with brand. So I think the real question is:
How will Microsoft fix their brand woes?
Tags: Ballmer, GillmorGang, Microsoft, Scoble, Silverlight, Yahoo, Yang
Now that we have the Adobe CEO saying, We’re bringing Flash to the iPhone.
How many more days until we hear Microsoft publicly commit to Silverlight on the iPhone? I bet we hear it within two weeks.
Why do I care? It validates some of my earlier arguments. Here and here.
Scott Guthrie? What do you say?
Update: Adobe clarifies CEO’s iPhone Flash comments. Maybe Apple will fight to keep their platform closed after all.
Tags: Adobe, Apple, Flash, iPhone, Microsoft, Silverlight
Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch reports that Microsoft Adopts Flash Lite For Windows Mobile As a Stopgap Measure. For those not keeping track of this, Adobe stopped supporting flash on Windows Mobile some time back. And now it looks like Microsoft has licensed the Flash Lite run time for Windows Mobile directly.
This is good news for Windows Mobile users, but Shonfeld is wrong about Microsoft’s reasons. He says,
… for Microsoft, this is just a stopgap measure until it can gain more traction for Silverlight, its Flash-competitor. The mobile version of Sliverlight 2.0 does not ship until the second quarter. Making WinMo more capable won’t detract from Silverlight’s appeal. There is a desperate need to get a full Flash-like experience on a mobile device. Flash itself is supposedly too slow on mobile phones. That leaves an opening for Microsoft win over converts to Silverlight by bringing video, animation, and other rich-media experiences to mobile. Nokia is already on board.
Does he really think that Microsoft would get into bed with Adobe Flash just because the Silverlight runtime doesn’t ship for one more quarter?
Microsoft is licensing Flash because they realize that they are losing to the iPhone. Simply put, Microsoft wants to make Windows Mobile better. Only running Silverlight would be a limitation, not an advantage. So they license Flash. My guess is that they’ll have a pre-installed Java runtime too.
On a related note, licensing ActiveSync to Apple has been much debated. Was is a good thing for Microsoft? Yes, and it is consistent with Microsoft licensing Flash Lite. Why?
- I think Microsoft has made the decision that Windows Mobile has to compete on its own merits (and not because it is a part of a greater lock-in with Microsoft Office).
- Microsoft also wants to protect their back-office Exchange licensing; what better way to do that than to make it easier for mobile handsets to support Exchange?
Adopting Flash is a step in the right direction. And licensing ActiveSync forces this point home.
Tags: Adobe, Apple, Flash, iPhone, Microsoft, techcrunch, Windows Mobile
Alex Iskold of ReadWriteWeb tells us Why Apple Will Dominate Next Gen Computing. He is wrong.
Apple’s success isn’t about the software
Alex Iskold’s premise is that Apple’s software platform is superior, therefore they will dominate. He says . . .
Apple’s secret sauce has been its software.
First off, this is not Apple’s secret sauce. Apple’s not-so-secret sauce is their ability to deliver highly-polished total product: hardware + software + services + image.
Controlling the hardware and software is a baseline requirement for a company to do this, but they go beyond that to build beautiful, desirable, and highly functional total products. A good part of this is observable beauty and another part is pure marketing genius: the creation of desire and belief in the hipness of the product.
Compare Apple’s total product approach with . . .
- Microsoft licenses Windows Mobile for a variety of devices, not being a handset manufacture, it doesn’t control the total product. For example, Samsung Blackjack. Popular phone? Yes. Windows Mobile a flop? No, but for user experience it compares very poorly against the iPhone.
- Microsoft licenses Windows Vista to a wide range of OEMs. Same story. A little worse because when they did have influence over the total product, they botched it. Example? The Vista Ready campaign and surrounding lawsuits.
- Palm? They had the slickest PDAs for quite some time. They controlled the total product but forgot the services part so Blackberry beat them handily. There death nell was selling of the software and licensing WM5.
- The XBox 360. Microsoft builds the hardware + software + service. Runaway success. Home run.
It isn’t the software, it isn’t the hardware, it is the total product. When a company controls the total product they can achieve Apple-level success.
Why Apple won’t dominate
To dominate, Apple has to penetrate into the greater computing space (and stop being a high-priced niche brand). Either
- their hardware becomes ubiquitous; or
- they broadly license their platform to other hardware manufactures.
The first one is ludicrous: user preferences are too varied for a single hardware vendor to be the one solution. Apple has mostly done it with the iPod, but that is a piece of consumer electronics and pales in comparison to the complexity of computer systems in general. If they believe this to be a good strategy, they would likely have to greatly broaden their product mix and lower their prices.
The second one, while certainly possible, would greatly complicate the Apple story, Apple software quality, messaging, etc. And still, broadly licensing technology will not result in domination.
Only if Apple chooses one of these approaches can they possibly dominate next-generation computing. And then they have to execute brilliantly. And then several years have to pass for people to be in a position to replace hardware. And then a huge migration has to occur. And then, Cocoa what?
Anyone think this is Steve Jobs plan? No way.
And if it is? Short Apple. There is too much choice out there in terms of hardware, developer platforms, better licensing models, nascent cloud platforms, etc., for Apple to dominate.
Tags: Apple, iPhone, Microsoft, Palm, Platforms, ReadWriteWeb, Windows Mobile, XBOX
A little late, but here are my notes on the Steve Ballmer keynote at MIX08.
The Q & A format was certainly better than having Steve Ballmer just talk for an hour, though I got a little tired of Guy Kawasaki’s cracks at Ballmer — about his wealth and method of travel, how Microsoft “should have hired” him. It got better when he stopped that.
I thought the best questions were from the Audience:
On .NET being baked into IE
Why isn’t IE built on .NET.
This has been a common theme, that is, the lack of .NET adoption for some major Microsoft products. Part of that is dog-fooding, but a bigger part is that the developer stories for these products are harder for lack of deep .NET support. For example, Office and IE are not based on .NET. Connecting between their unmanaged, COM, BHO worlds and the managed .NET world is more than a little painful.
Anyway, his response was that .NET wasn’t expected to be as proven and as far along by the time Vista shipped. Fair enough, but I would have been happier if the delays in Vista were related to a real WinFx in the OS than the reasons given.
What about Silverlight for the iPhone?
Steve Ballmer responded (paraphrased) . . .
Would love to get it on everything;
Can’t say we’ve been having talks about it; and
Licensing model not so good.
Right. The licensing model is not so good.
Maybe Microsoft can pay Apple a bunch of money so Silverlight can run on the iPhone. Then developers can build the apps for free?
Sounds good to me.
Tags: .NET, IE, IE8, iPhone, Longhorn, Microsoft, Silverlight, Vista
Onstage during his keynote at MIX08 yesterday, Scott Guthrie said they’ll be bringing Silverlight to “everything with an SDK”. Yesterday, I suggested this was a dig at the iPhone with its lack of an SDK.
Of course, that was yesterday and today we expected an announcement from Apple on the new SDK. I also surmised that the SDK wouldn’t be deep enough for Silverlight, but reports are that I was wrong.
So, my guess is that Scott was hinting at Silverlight for the iPhone.
So, Scott, when we’ll we see it?
And Ray Ozzie, please get the Office Team onto .NET, specifically the Office Mobile Team onto Silverlight.
Tags: .NET, iPhone, Microsoft, MIX08, office, Office Mobile, Ozzie, ScottGu, Silverlight
This is the third of three posts on the MIX08 keynotes. This is like live blogging without the live, since I’m writing this in Oakland. You can follow my comments at http://twitter.com/rwandering.
Scott Guthrie et al.
Most of the discussion was on Silverlight 2. This is the coolest thing Microsoft is doing in the Internet space and it is (happily) pervading a lot of their strategy.
- Silverlight 2, adaptive streaming very cool.
- Advertising templates for Visual Studio. Struck me as odd, but it looks good, and advertising is the corner stone of free. I won’t be running out to try this one.
- Double-click and Silverlight. To keep “gold standard of reporting”, they support Silverlight for instream ad delivery. Makes sense.
- Silverlight 2 built-in controls will truly accelerate Silverlight adoption. New controls open-source with unit tests. Very cool.
The Silverlight demos did not disappoint
- Hard Rock International demo was really cool. They showed deep zooming to incredible detail and zooming way out to see the entire collection, tiled. Lots of Beatles stuff in there too. Yay.
- Aston Martin site cool too. The number of options that a user can select.
- Cirque de Soleil Human Resources system. Custom built HR system. This kind of application shows how IT can’t ever really be dead. That is, one-size-fits-all HR systems don’t work where a company sees competitive advantage or reduced costs in custom systems.
- Better controls.
- Write custom effect that can be pushed down to the GPU.
Windows Mobile and Non-Windows Mobile, but what does that mean? Nokia Symbian, of course, but what else? Scott says more and more devices. In fact, he said,
Everything with an SDK.
Is that a dig at the iPhone? I wonder if the iPhone SDK when released will be deep enough to allow Silverlight. My guess is no.
Anyway, good job Scott. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Microsoft .NET strategy really rocks.
Tags: .NET, iPhone, Microsoft, MIX08, Nokia, ScottGu, Silverlight, Symbian
This is the second of three posts on the MIX08 keynotes. This is like live blogging without the live, since I’m writing this in Oakland. You can follow my comments at http://twitter.com/rwandering.
IE8, Dean Hachamovitch, GM IE
Focus on standards compliance. This will be a great productivity boost for web-site developers.
1. CSS 2.1.
2. CSS cert.
- Funny that Microsoft is claiming that ambiguities in the specs make it hard to prove correctness. They are correct, but it sounds a little like whining. It also reminds me of the Server 2008 test.
- Test cases from Microsoft, good.
- IE 8 transition might be painful. For users.
4. HTML 5.
- Back button can work with AJAX. This is a very big deal for improving the consistency of the browser user experience.
- Connection events in HTML 5 / DOM storage, re-connect, “make content available” later. Cool.
5. new dev tools
- Cool script debugger in IE8. Looks like the developer toolbar has gotten much better.
- User activities added to browser by users (kind of like smart links).
- Activities are defined in XML. Kind of cool, though I can see the browser becoming hard to use as a user adds a bunch of activities; however, that is up to them to manage.
- This format is the OpenService Format Specification. Share/Share-alike spec.
- Users can subscribe to parts of web-pages (driven by sites providing this as a service).
- This is the WebSlice Format Specification. Public domain spec.
8. IE8, Beta 1 for developers
- Released today. Cool. I will be checking this out. At first in a VM. I hope IE7 can live along side IE8. Since they didn’t mention this, my guess is no.
Tags: IE, IE7, IE8, Microsoft, MIX08, Silverlight
This is the first of three posts on the MIX08 keynotes. This is like live blogging without the live, since I’m writing this in Oakland. You can follow my comments at http://twitter.com/rwandering.
Ray Ozzie opened the MIX08 conference keynotes talking about the overall Microsoft strategy. He said all the right things about the transition to the cloud. Talked about three principles (social device mesh, business, fabric of small pieces). No surprises here.
In the context of the world of connected systems, he said (paraphrased) . . .
Magic of software to bring them all together into . . .a mesh
I love the expression “the magic of software”. Of course, we developers are not magicians, but when things are done right there is a real feeling of magic. This is especially true when disparate systems begin working together through elegant and open standards.
He spent most of his time talking about 5 scenarios . . . here are some thoughts.
1. Connected devices
His vision of bringing your different devices together reminds me of the Blackberry Enterprise Server, but for consumer devices.
2. Connected entertainment
License media / collections (playlists) / subscriptions once, use any device for playback. This is kind of a holy grail, I think. If this is managed through a SilverLight runtime we may have a hope that it is across devices.
3. Connected productivity
Office PC, Office Mobile, Office Live — seamlessly allow users to work across devices, using the right tool at the right time. No info on licensing costs, or on the details of Office Mobile. If the Mobile story requires Windows Mobile, then this isn’t so compelling.
4. Connected Business
Exchange in cloud. Other services too. Good. Very good.
5. Connected Development
Of course, .NET + Silverlight, Expression, . . . Good stuff.
Tags: Microsoft, MIX08, office, Ozzie, Silverlight
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Heroes who happen by our booth at the Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008, and SQL Server 2008 launch will get a chance to win an XBOX-360. OK, you don’t have to be hero, but you do have to be spotted wearing a Digipede sticker sporting our mascot, Deatle.
Come on by and see us.
BTW: I won’t be at this event, but I’ll be at the one in SF on March 13th. No Digipede booth or give-away there.
Tags: Deatle, Digipede, Launch, Microsoft, Server 2008, XBOX
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