As a design study the Courier was a tremendous success back in 2010, but as a PR exercise it was something far more sinister.
I heard when I was visiting Microsoft HQ in Redmond that Microsoft had made the Courier concept public to demonstrate what could be built on the Windows platform and had provided the build specs to at least one OEM, however the Courier quickly turned from an innovative design exercise into an unfortunate metaphor for their inability to compete with Apple.
It made no real sense to me at the time that Microsoft was actually going to build the Courier, however with the announcement of their Surface Tablet, I clearly don’t know shit.
Regardless that Microsoft obsesses about competing with Apple (And Google for that matter) the fact is Microsoft doesn’t compete head to head with Apple, their OEM partners do, such as DELL, Sony and HP. Those same OEMs are are on the Android bandwaggon as a fashonable and low cost alternative to Windows. Faced with flagging consumer relevance and an uncomfortable 3-way with Google, Microsoft clearly had two options, try to woo the channel and win them back from Google, or go head to head, Google style!
Google led the way in Partner-shafting when they formed the Open Handset Alliance to build Andriod powered phones whilst building its own Nexus device to compete with it! But then, Google always seem to struggle with the notion of boundaries. Microsoft, on the other hand, seemed to take a Partner-first approach.
Microsoft is in a sticky spot for sure. I mentioned before that Microsoft could hold its breath for a long time, meaning that it could afford to make short term sacrifices for the long term good, but those old lungs are not what they used to be, which, combined with an astonishing run for Apple, has clearly led to new thinking in Redmond. I can’t see how this is winning.
I still have a soft spot for the Bellevue Behemoth, I enjoy a Windows Phone 7 after all! Yet I can’t hide my disappointment with their new G+/Pinterest competitor So.cl having logged in for the first time today.
There was a time only a few years back when a Consumer Preview or Beta could be rough-as-guts bad – and early adopters would still evangelise the intent even though they had to cut the execution some slack!
However I think the world has moved on. Looking at innovation through a Lean Startup lens it feels appropriate to cut features in favour of capability when time to market is important. Yet what Microsoft have done with So.cl is enabled 100% of the product features at the expense of capability, in fact, I get errors at pretty much every turn!
In such a competitive market, when trial, adoption and subsequent user engagement/feedback is so critical, I think Microsoft are about the blow the advocacy available from that first wave of geek-adopters as a result of their surprisingly poor execution, a potentially fatal blow for a Network-effects dependent platform.
As an innovator the formula to success seems straightforward, annoy fewer customers than you delight and your advocacy will grow.
Sadly, Microsoft are engaging on a very dangerous battlefield with So.cl, I imagine their their enemies are moving in for the kill already. Another Wave anyone?
I was disappointed to hear about GroupOn’s Bait and Switch issue concerning the Valentine’s Day offer with FTD, however I immediately jumped to their defence.
A large part of Cudo’s operation is focused on ensuring that the offers we provide are 100% genuine, not just because we advertise on TV and are subject to rigorous standards, but because we believe the long term success of Cudo is hinged upon trust.
Our Merchant partners have to trust that Cudo will do the right thing by them by providing a great audience of new customers, broad brand promotion as described and payment in full within five days. And our members have to trust that Cudo is all about genuine no-brainer offers!
GroupOn must also have a whole team of people focused on ensuring that offers are “as stated”, hence why I jumped to their defence. However after seeing the following “all you can eat” ad, I am no longer sure!
Clicking on the ad for $8 all you can eat Macaroons takes you to a sign-up page, no such offer exists.
Deceptive. Yes. Bait and Switch. I think so.
Unless I am missing something, this type of Bait and Switch advertising is way out of line and threatens to damage the market as a whole. One thing is for sure, Cudo will never resort to these desperate tactics.