There have been a few interesting stories of huge corporations re-inventing themselves – IBM’s example of going into software services from personal computing being the most striking one. The other such example was Microsoft dismissing the Internet as a fad and then later clambering back on track with Internet Explorer, one of the biggest blockbuster product of all times.
Considering the above, it’s surprising how Microsoft let what happened in the past 2-3 years to itself…yet again. As Apple continued its Alexanderesque march through its iPads, MS was content / smug to note that their main market is office (work) PCs and 90-95% of these ran Windows. Apple could fool around as much as they wanted with the home / entertainment segment. However, as more and more tablets started making their appearance in the office, MS suddenly found that this could threaten their “home” base. Also, personal computing devices started moving from only PCs to tablets and now, smartphones – as per an article in a recent issue of the Economist, 320mn PCs are getting shipped out this calendar year, 110mn tablets and 640 mn smartphones. So having a 90% share of the PC market means having a 30% share of the total computing market. More worryingly for MS, these 3 categories are estimated to grow by 20%, 200% and 100% respectively over the next 4 years…MS seems to have lost the plot…yet again.
But MS is MS – remember, they have fought back tenaciously in the past…they have come back now with a strategy and a project plan. They have launched Windows 8, which will straddle across PCs, tablets and smartphones (soon), with the touch-screen features which were absent so far. In fact, it has been developed with the tablet in mind and will extend to the other 2 forms. However, MS doesn’t want to rest with only launching Windows 8. Since there is no big IBM type dada in tablets other than Apple, MS does not want to trust anyone else to carry their battle in the Tablets segment – so they are releasing Surface, a tablet device running on W8. There will be an explosion of ultra-book PCs and tablets from other manufacturers, which will start running on W8 within no time. Remember, 90% of office goers are more comfortable in a Windows environment than a Mac environment. Let’s see how things move in the next one year. I am putting my money on the guys from Redmond !