Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Microsoft's Grand Plan To Go Vertical: "IBM realigned its sales and software strategy vertically, starting in late 2003. Now it's Microsoft's turn to try to do the same." ... "Microsoft isn't building any vertical apps, McCollum emphasized. But he did acknowledge that Microsoft's new vertical focus will have an impact over time on how Microsoft designs and develops its products. McCollum didn't specify exactly how this change will occur or what form it will take." Uh. I wonder why that might be? Finding an e-Week article dated 01/05 is not the same as figuring out when IBM went vertical. I'd peg it in the 80's somewhere, but considering the company made clocks, card sorters, typewriters and a lot of other things not strictly associated with mainframe data processing you could say they have ALWAYS been a vertical company. They've had consulting services as long as I can remember and within that had specific industry focus. IBM has thus had breadth and depth unlike almost any other company in history. At the other end of the spectrum... Of course, anyone who stares at Microsoft too long will become blinded to the fact that their focus has been so incredibly narrow with respect to almost any other company of their size and wealth. This move *is* their only way out, but having painted themselves into a situation with only one exit strategy possible is hardly something over which they should be complimented. I noticed that one industry pundit has taken to referring to HP as the "Ink Maker", and maybe its time to come up with a cute name to remind people that Microsoft's only claim to fame is a poorly designed and aging operating system with some end-user "productivity" tools to go along with it. I guess we might have trouble coming up with anything better than "micro-soft" though. It's hard to find companies who have survived from one generation to the next, and those who have have generally don't so by wildly diversifying themselves. Microsoft has shown little inclination to do this, and where there has been inclination, talent is lacking. What Microsoft watchers might want to start doing is making book on what their chances of success are. I'd rate them at less than half.

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