Orange Envelopes Blog

Microsoft Plots Massive Product Failure

I simply can’t be the first to notice Microsoft’s repeated, laughable and impotent attempts to produce consumer electronics that appeal to anyone outside of the Bill Gates compound.

failureQuick, do you know anyone who has a Zune? Have you ever even seen one outside of a Best Buy? When was the last time you overheard someone bragging that they waited in line four hours to nab the latest Windows Mobile phone? Hell, even Melinda Gates admitted that she privately coveted the iPhone.

The list of Microsoft failures is long and illustrious. Walk with me down the memory lane of Microsoft product tragedies, which include the Microsoft Origami (their lame and ultimately aborted attempt at an UltraMobilePC), a five year headstart in developing a mobile phone platform that has generated viral buzz and consumer anticipation for…. well, none that I can recall, and, of course, the aforementioned Zune, whose sales are rumored to approach triple digits. Total. Worldwide. Way to go, iPod killer.

Given this unrivaled history of corporate ineptitude, what’s to explain the huge headline in today’s WSJ, spanning nearly the entire page – Microsoft and Verizon Plot an iPhone Rival?

Are the loud guffaws and giggles from Cupertino disturbing your reading?

It’s not difficult to guess what will emerge from these high-powered strategic confabs between Microsoft and Verizon. Both have watched as each company’s nemesis rode the cresting wave of popularity and iconic status of the iPhone to unimagined commercial success.

Verizon is still wallowing in the regret of turning down Apple’s initial offer of exclusivity. And Microsoft remains stubbornly, and almost endearingly, steadfast in their commitment to Windows Mobile as the preeminent mobile platform. Which makes them the perfect partners to develop an imaginary mobile device that will do everything the iPhone does… and more!

They will combine forces to produce a brilliant, almost legendary, product spec that includes an unheard of, amazing feature set for a touchscreen phone, including everything that the current iPhone lacks. Video? Check. Cut and paste? Check. 5 MP camera? Check. Stereo Bluetooth? Check.

Excited yet? It’s the phone that does it all. That has every feature that any user could ever want. On the nation’s most reliable network. What could possibly go wrong?

It will suck. It will perform 486 functions in ways that drive the user crazy and simply reinforce Apple’s dominion in the mobile world.
How do I know this? Because neither Microsoft nor Verizon has ever delivered a consumer electronic product that incorporates thoughtful and creative design in ways that delight and amaze their customers. It’s not how they think or how they work. While they focus on the current iPhone as their target, Apple is focusing on remaking the iPhone entirely, on designing user experiences and handheld capabilities that emerge from their fecund imaginations, not from a strategic planning session that will likely produce Verizon’s own mobile Vista. Now that’s something to look forward to.

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