Sometime later this year, Microsoft will launch a rebranding campaign for Windows, its core product. It’s Ballmer’s answer to “Get a Mac.” And while Yahoo may have turned down Ballmer’s $47.5 billion acquisition bid, the CEO says he’ll spend as much as it takes to build a business that challenges Google on the web.
Microsoft’s image isn’t too hot right now, but it’s not entirely irreparable. Sure, their future is grim, but I don’t think it’s completely impossible for them to be cast in a good light someday… many, many years from now. But if Ballmer’s at the wheel, I have my doubts. The reason I say that is because a lot of the higher-ups in the tech industry (especially Ballmer) are wildly biased towards their own companies, and refuse to acknowledge their limitations by playing it smart (e.g. CEO of Napster). Competing with Google at this point in time? Is that a joke?
I saw the movie “21” recently (meh, it’s alright). One of the better lines from Kevin Spacey’s character goes: “The only thing worse than a loser is someone who won’t admit he played badly.” Ballmer is wildly hubristic if he honestly thinks Microsoft can compete with Google on the web. Like a gambler who refuses to admit he lost, Ballmer will dump money into a project that’s almost guaranteed to fail. Microsoft will never be first, or even second, in the eye of the consumer for web search, so give it up. Put your money into something that hasn’t been dominated already.
One of the things I liked in Kawasaki’s “Art of the Start” is when he says you should always run a business idea by a woman first. The reason for this is because guys love almost every business plan, especially when they hear you phrase your idea as “The (Some Monopoly) Killer.” Us guys tend to get excited when we can picture ourselves taking down the #1 business in an industry, but it’s usually unrealistic thinking. In Microsoft’s case, they have the cash, but they don’t have what’s important: innovation, corporate culture, and brand equity. Sure, they have those things, but not like Google does.