Technology Marketing

    Google, One Step Closer to Trivestiture

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    In February of last year I predicted Google would split into 3 companies.  With its intent to purchase Motorola Mobility, announced this morning, Google is one step closer.  The point of my original prediction post was lost in favor of a searchable sound bite reposted by Steve Rubel: “Google’s culture of technological obesity” but that trivestiture angle may now take on some weight.

    This is a very big move for Google and will continue to blur the lines between hard and soft ware companies no doubt with an expected response from “Guess who?” Microsoft. (Look for a potential full purchase of Nokia within the year.) Mobile is so hinky and malleable right now I think the Android/Moto thing will work. And then open may be out the door — guess we’ll see.

    For all the tech prognosticators this announcement will create some serious buzz and take eyes off of Google+, a half-baked though still tasty cake.

    Como se wow!  September should be an interesting month. Peace! 

    Leo’s Brilliant, Mistimed, Cloudy Future.

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    Today there will be lots of stories written about Leo Apotheker’s plight at Hewlett-Packard. And of the HP board, and potential replacements for Mr. Apotheker. One lens I like to look through when doing strategic planning is the “history” lens.  When viewed over time – a long time – will the company, product or leader have made a historic contribution?  Typically, that means looking at strategy rather than tactics.

    In Mr. Apotheker’s case, it is clear to me that his PR handlers were at fault.  His moves to purchase Autonomy, shed the PC and tablet business, and stop investing in WebOS were historic moves — looking well beyond the dashboard.  One might say, and say accurately, that when you put a software person in charge of a mixed media multinational, the road to the future is paved with software.  Mr. Apotheker saw deteriorating PC sales, reduced profitability in services (the cloud is getting not only bigger, but smarter), and device manufacturing (especially sans Steve Jobs) under enormous cost pressures. Think device kudzu.  Rather than stay and fight for integration of solutions hard and soft around his OS — which code-wise may not have been ready for primetime and perhaps at risk from new OS pushes by Microsoft and Apple — he decided to retrench with eye toward the future. Very ballsy.

    The cloud is the future. Device complexity will reduce over time and when it does, the cloud, run by software, will become the electricity of business. And that is where Mr. Apotheker was going. Sadly, he had a lapse in judgment and bad guidance and announced it at the wrong time and inelegantly.  Como se billions in lost shareholder value?  Some strategies (read historic) are better left unannounced. Is that not so, Mr. Jobs? Peace.    

    Apple and the Untouchables.

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    The cloud is the cloud.  Apps are the software we all use. Many apps are free, others are pay-for. What the cloud and apps have in common is the internet.  Apple was always a wonderful design company. First and foremost the designs were physical – about the device.  Also the designs were logical – about the software and usability. But physical design is the tangible evidence of what makes Apple graet..

    As Apple moves its center, its core, away from the wonderful designs it has created over the last 8 years towards more cloud-based designs (read iCloud) will the luster come off?  Clouds are pretty to watch, but don’t offer the luster of slim, shiny touchables.  I would almost prefer to see Apple go into the car or refrigerator business than the cloud business. But that’s moi. Peace!

    A Google+ ad.

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    Google published a nice usable ad in the New York Times today, the visual for which is the oft used name tag with the line “Hello My Name is Dave.”  The copy started off with a little explanation of how cumbersome it would be if every time you met someone you had to tell them your name, age and where you are from.   So with heads nodding the copy goes on to suggest this would also be cumbersome every time you visited a website.  The solution, says Google, are cookies:  “tiny little crumbs of stored information to remember your previous visits.”  Doesn’t sound so bad.  And for those who don’t know what a cookie is, it’s a nice little explanation.  My mom would understand this (if she could find the URL bar.)

    In a time when privacy (which rhymes with piracy) is extremely topical, this simplified, non-judgmental explanation of cookies is, as the Brits say, quite lovely. The copy explains cookies can be shut off and provides a link to other information about privacy.  (Google Chrome has some elegant solutions, btw.)

    Google knows so much and now they seem to have conquered the science of advertising. Simple is better. One idea at a time.  Engage.  Leaders educate and this ad demonstrates both qualities.  Another Google +. Peace.

    The Rending of HP.

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    Meg Whitman, who is the CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, it seems to me, doesn’t have a marketing bone in her body. She is amazingly successful and a brand unto herself, but marketing is not a major care-about for her. If she cared she would have fought harder to keep HP together and invest into the PC and printer businesses. (Are you reading this on a PC? Is it 6 feet from your HP printer?)  Instead she split the company and took control of something called Hewlett Packard Enterprise, a huge battleship of a company with a stodgy, clunky brand, positioned around an idea “Accelerating Next.” Como se 1990s?

    Of the two diverged companies I’m kind of liking the PC and printer business, branded HP Inc. Its new CEO Dion Weisler seems a marketeer. He understands it all starts with a product and has smartly dialed up R&D resulting in some laptop forms that are beginning to create excitement. His printers are offering up consumer care-abouts like lower cost ink and faster printing. It also appears he’s a bit of a showman — introducing some laptops inside one another, as with nested Russian dolls.   

    When you think about it, Mr. Whitman got the business brands and Mr. Weisler got the consumer brands which was probably a good plan.

    That said, I always bet on a business person with marketing chops.  Let’s see what the future of these two brands bring.

    Peace.

     

    Microsoft Office 365 Crack.

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    Microsoft is a pretty amazing company. Its roots are in operating systems with its second version (Windows) transforming personal computing. Blah blah, I know. But the real invention was taking very complicated technology instructions and creating a user interface that enabled regular people to navigate it, using the open and closed window as a metaphor.

    (Their new mobile operating system should be called Tiles, but that’s a story for another day.)

    In the 90s, Microsoft only hired the smartest people on earth.  It gave Mensa style logic quizzes to all prospects, figuring if  you populated your company with Harvards, how could you lose. And it worked for a while.

    But as the company evolved the Harvards — and please, I love Harvard, no offense meant — began to develop more and more products, the products became hugely over-built and complicated. Microsoft’s second most famous product “Word” has 88 features, or there about, with most people using only 12.  And that was okay because what you didn’t know didn’t hurt you.  But as the company moved into communications servers, SharePoint and other software ditties in the productivity world, usability became quite a chore. And a major impediment. If  it didn’t come with corporate training it wasn’t intuitive enough to pass the mass appeal test.

    Microsoft’s new cloud product called Office 365 is quite robust and has the ability to change the business world.  It’s the best of all MSFT products for the enterprise. The kind of stuff small businesses only dream about. But it’s overly complicated. It needs a beginner slope. A beginner product for small business that, like crack, will create addiction.  If they crack the code on a usable version of Office 365, a big if, Microsoft may just double its revenue. Peace!

     

    Yahoo! And Yippee.

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    I half disagree with Marissa Mayer, Yahoo!’s new CEO,  about Yahoo’s challenge.  When asked the question “Does Yahoo needs to define whether it is a technology company or a media company?” she responded “It’s not the right questions.  The most important thing is to give end users something valuable, inspiring and delightful that makes them want to come to Yahoo! every day.”  With that part of her answer I completely agree. But the way to get there — is to become content-focused.  In the NYT article Ms. Mayer’s quote came from, an eMarketer analyst suggested that Yahoo doesn’t own the operating system or the device and that there may not be enough room in the market for a 4th mobile platform. (I hate the “P” word, you can drive a truck through it.) Whatever he meant by platform, my take is there will certainly be enough room in the mobile world for a great content provider.

    Ms. Mayer accurately feels that mobile is a growth zone for Yahoo!. If she provides content that is mobile ready, not technology ready – she will grow. Technology-enabled (other people’s technology) content is her north star. Any apps or start-ups that result are gravy.

    This gem just needs a little cleaning off. 700 million people can’t be wrong. Peace!

     

    Microsoft Brand Diaspora

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    One of the fun things about having a blog is in predicting things that eventually come true. I predicted Google’s trivestiture a couple of years ago and that hasn’t happened. Yet. You can’t win them all. But my posts about Microsoft’s brand diaspora – the unfettered and uncontrolled creep of its brands, highlighted by use of the word “Live,” I’m excited to say, looks to be accurate.  Microsoft is retiring the word “Live.” Readers know I’m behind Microsoft making a flash-cut away from the word “Windows,” as in Windows 8, in favor of the word “Tiles,” but that’s not likely to happen soon. That’s because Windows is a repository for all other creeping sub-brands.  Windows is okay to keep alive for archiving purposes, but Windows 8 should be named Tiles as should the new mobile OS.  Tiles suggests the user paradigm shift much the way Windows did in the 90s.

    A new CMO tasked with making things more efficient from a messaging standpoint might walk into Microsoft and on day one fire a bunch of brand names.  It would be hard medicine but the creep (verb) has really gotten out of hand. Retiring Live is a good move. Peace! 

    Microsoft Strong.

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    God forgive me but I’m going to disagree with Robert Scoble, my technology pundit hero. I do not think Microsoft should be split in two: one side about the enterprise and software, the other consumers and devices.  

    Mr. Scoble’s logic, and it seems some Wall Street finaciers agree, suggests the business side is “crushing” it (thanks Techmeme), while the device business growing modestly at 4%. Split the company, they say, and let consumer people handle the devices and business people handle the enterprise. I say bullshit. Together there is way much more to learn. And business and marketing is all about learning. Together there will be tensions that are hurtful, yet hopefully transitional. Brothers and sisters argue but they care about the family. And if the tensions are insurmountable, there is always mother (CEO).

    Microsoft has so much cash, so much penetration, and enough smart people that it can continue to innovate and make an occasional misstep.  Como se Kin?  And though Microsoft’s brand diaspora is a problem, it is getting better and is certainly fixable.  Mother?

    Microsoft is a living organism. It feeds itself while feeding upon itself, yet it is still better as one. With all deference to Mr. Scoble and the financiers and lawyers, the latter motivated by a pay day, let’s not break apart the machine that is crushing it.

    Peace.

    The Digital Triangle. The Perfect Start-up Womb.

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    The digital triangle, located in NYC, bears three distinct corners.  DUMBO in Brooklyn. SOHO in Manhattan. Union Square, also in Manhattan.

    DUMBO is where the coders are.  A youthful tech workforce who live digitally-centric lives, they are smart and have engineer-friendly minds. (A lot of gamer consoles burn out in DUMBO.) It’s a little men and boy heavy.  Union Square is where the money is.  Where the incubators are.  It’s where the DUMBO denizens with entrepreneurial spirit visit with their hands out.  It’s close to NYU and also has a lovely, youthful energy. Parking is expensive in Union Square but the smart money walks the streets.  SOHO is what makes the digital triangle different.  It is where designers, the truly creative and exceptionally beautiful like to call home. They don’t live there really, just work, shop and hang. If you can’t get inspired in SOHO with all its art, nubes, soft tacos, fashion, and vibe, you can’t get inspired.  All these neighborhoods are a subway or bike ride apart and feed off of each other. It is a perfect storm for start-ups.  

    Unlike Sand Hill Road (money), its surrounding neighborhoods of Menlo Park, Palo Alto, etc. (tech engineers) and San Francisco (ad people) the Digital Triangle is close but not really connected. The west coast likes campuses. It works but not like the digital triangle. As technology’s pull increases and more and more of the economy is tied to digital commerce, NYC will grow in importance globally and will become a tech capital with no peer. Just ask Fred Wilson. Peace.