From Tim O’Reilly’s Radar:
Microsoft was once motivated by its own Big Hairy Audacious Goal: “a computer on every desk and in every home.” They achieved that goal, and ever since, they’ve drifted. Now their only goal seems to be to stay on top of the heap. They need to stop focusing on eating other people’s lunch and start thinking deeply about what kind of goals might stretch the company once again.
Microsoft is probably one of the best examples of this “big company” mentality. This seems to happen all the time. A company comes on the scene with a vision and a great product/service, and as soon as they become dominant in their category, they forget to realign their strategies. They milk their product for all it’s worth (which is the right thing to do), but they also try to play catch up with their competitors. This is a waste of resources, typically. It’s especially true when a company puts their name on a new product that doesn’t really fit with them. (Donald Trump is the absolute worst at this, and while he’s a smart businessman for the most part, he’s notorious for idiotic line extensions. Trump vodka? Trump steak? Come on, put your ego aside and think about what you’re doing.)
The Microsoft Zune? No one is going to take down the iPod in the portable digital music player industry unless its Apple replacing it with something better. Microsoft Live? No one is going to take down Google anytime soon, and the company that will sure as hell won’t be Microsoft. The problem with this company is that they’re trying to be everything their competitors already are. They’ll imitate any company that poses any sort of threat to them. They make no attempt to be the leader of the pack anymore. There’s no strategy because they never were the innovators; they were just the smart business people.
Microsoft is every big company who doesn’t understand the importance of vision. Microsoft’s vision was to have a computer in every home. They essentially accomplished that goal long ago. They’re desperately looking for new sources of revenue because their competitors are so much better than they are. Instead of redefining their vision, they follow others. They’re toast, and have been that way for awhile.
If you are a big company, DON’T follow what your competitors are doing. Stick to your guns. Guns = what’s your really good at and what your customers know you’re good at. Microsoft isn’t Google, Nintendo, or Apple. Stop pretending and define yourself.