Jul 132011
 

To put it another way, Apple’s retail sales for the first quarter of 2011 accounted for 1/5 of all retail growth. In the pool of every dollar gained by all publicly-traded retailers year-over-year, Apple accounted for 20%. That is unbelievable. USA Today has the scoop.

Applying the same logic they used with the Zune and Windows Phone 7, Microsoft heard there were huge margins to be made in retail, so they’ve committing to building another 75 Microsoft stores within the next 2-3 years.

Mar 142011
 

Today Microsoft made one of their now-famous “soft announcements” – an evasive answer to a call-out that signals something more significant – regarding their personal media player, the Zune. In response to a leak that there would be no further development of the iPod Me-Too, Redmond issued their standard sleight-of-hand response. From Bloomberg:

“We have nothing to announce about another Zune device — but most recently have introduced Zune HD to Canada via the Zune Originals store and remain committed to supporting our devices in North America,”

Translation: “We’re not making another Zune. We feel the vision of mediocrity for our music players is more compatible with our shitty smartphones. And we hate Canadians.”

Microsoft’s consumer electronics are faceplanting with the frequency of an X-Games highlight reel, and are just about as fun to watch.

Nov 102010
 

Despite many self-inflicted blows to the head, I cannot get that sound byte out of my head, which I guess is the point of most Microsoft advertising. It’s one of the things I imagine they teach in “Introduction to Advertising”. Except for the part about the impression associating positively with the brand. Redmond’s ads are memorable like Creepy King.

Anyway, Windows Phone 7 debuted their offerings with AT&T (yes, the same network that is holding the iPhone hostage) and it doesn’t look like it made a huge splash, despite whoring out Maroon 5 and Katy Perry in an attempt to sell them. I guess launching on the same network as the iPhone wasn’t that great an idea after all. Despite some critics’ hypothesis, which is that Microsoft burned its bridge with Verizon when they yoinked the Kin after 2 months, I actually think there’s a larger strategy at play. Microsoft wants to be the best by beating the best. Really. This is the same company that threatened to open its wildly popular retail stores next door to Apple Stores. I apologize in advance for any sarcasm detectors I may have just broken.

On a related note, I despise Katy Perry. You know by listening to her music that she sold out approximately 14 seconds postpartum.

“Let’s make a pop song about lipstick lesbianism!” /giggles

“I’m married to wild child Russell Brand and I have him trained!” /giggles

Is it any coincidence that Katy Perry and Gwen Stefani have both shilled for Redmond? They’re the same schtick, people. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen them together. File that rant under “Haters gon’ hate”.

May 262010
 

M$ doesn’t have much of a presence in markets that aren’t inherited. As opposed to the Windows, Office and Server dinosaurs, Microsoft’s attempts at making things people actually want to use have been somewhat less successful. The entity known as the “Entertainment and Devices” division of Microsoft has been a balance sheet singularity responsible for, among other things, the RROD and the Zune each contributing to the copious effluence of red ink gushing from the division since it first appearance in the books. A series of mostly underwhelming and universally capital-hemorrhaging products and vapor paved the way for the latest slap against Ballmer’s flabby jowls. When SB appeared onstage at CES, he was groping an HP tablet called the Slate, a device meant to compete with the soon-to-be-shipped iPad. When HP bought Palm, they pulled the plug on the device a mere 5 months after SB fondled a demo in front of hundreds of frothing keynoters. The term I’m looking for here is “suck it”.

Making shitastic products is one thing; losing a major hardware host partner is quite another. Ballmer has put his foot down. After 22 years, Robbie Bach is hitting the bricks.

I want to spend a second on the HP-Palm thing. In the salad years, when Microsoft said “jump”, its hardware partners grabbed their ankles. Without question. Back then, pulling off an acquisition that could be perceived as competing with a M$ offering would have gotten you kicked off the Windows tit in a heartbeat. Now, in 2010, one of the largest PC builders thinks nothing of acquiring a company that competes directly with Redmond in the mobile space, potentially risking their status as a Windows OEM to do it. They pulled a product made for their Masters out of the pipeline – practically out of Ballmer’s hands – in the process. No wonder you can still see the skidmarks in Redmond where Robbie’s ass bounded to the curb.

A week prior, M$’s Chief Experience Officer and CTO for E&D J Allard decided not to return from a sabbatical, possibly due to the dirt nap taken by the Courier project, something J (just J, got it?) was personally championing. Apparently Allard was disappointed that the Courier never graduated from “design student animation thesis” to, you know, something with specs and stuff that could actually be built. Maybe he missed the Microsoft orientation video on vaporware.

Looks like some senior vermin are taking the plunge from the SS Borg. Maybe they see the future for Microsoft that everyone else in tech sees.

So who will take on responsibility for the latest sucking void within the sucking void that is E&D?

Effective July 1, Don Mattrick, who leads our interactive entertainment business, and Andy Lees, who leads our mobile communications business, will report directly to me.

The “me”? Steve Ballmer. If you’re a Microsoft competitor, this is liquid awesome.

Sep 092009
 

As a result of an announcement made at Apple’s ‘It’s Only Rock and Roll’ event‚ you can officially kiss goodbye any hopes you had of doing something stupid in public and not getting caught.  Yes‚ the rumors were true – the newest iPod Nanos can now capture you being Sharpie skunked by your “friends” in 640 x 480 pixels at 30 fps – complete with AAC audio of your feeble attempts to ward off your attackers.  I imagine Cisco feels like the time I guy you hear about who bought the HDTV from the back of a van and ended up with a box full of bricks.

They start at $150‚ so boo for remaining privacy/yay for stealth pr0n‚ depending on how famous you are and what you’re into.

The new Nanos also got a pedometer (for Nike + integration)‚ Voice Memos and FM radio.

While I’m sure someone over in the Zune product design camp is doing a little fist pump of vindication‚ Apple has done what it usually does with useless features stapled onto other people’s offerings – made them useful.  In addition to being easily able to navigate stations and program presets using the scroll wheel and middle button respectively‚  “Live Pause”‚ brings timeshifting to FM radio.  Pause a station when you’re interrupted and resume when you’re ready.  You can even rewind and fast-forward through content.  If you hear something you like and the station supports it‚ you can also “tag” a song for purchase (bonus revenue hook FTW!).  So I guess M$ can go back to sucking it.

In other news‚ the new iTunes 9‚ also announced today‚ features “Home Sharing”‚ which allows you to share content between computers on the same LAN.  While one would think that allowing one to access his content via MobileMe wouldn’t be a stretch‚ apparently that’s not yet supported (at least not in the 15 minutes since I started messing with it and subsequently threw my wireless keyboard).  I WANT MY UBIQUITOUS CONTENT NOW!!  /rant.

All in all‚ Apple looked to further position itself as a media innovator.  As TMA digs further into the upgraded iTunes‚ I’ll be sure to keep my loyal readership posted.  /sarcasm.

Oh – and the Beatles still aren’t on iTunes.  If all media outlets could agree that “the Beatles” and “Apple” would never used in the same sentence for the remainder of time until it fucking happened‚ all famine and war would cease immediately.

Seriously.

May 282009
 

You’ve all heard of the strategy of being a “loss leader” in a market; but M$ is looking to perpetuate its title of “loss follower” in its consumer product offerings.   Witness Microsoft’s latest flotilla of capital destined to do dance of the porcelin swirl: the Zune HD.

zune hd Hey. That design almost doesn’t look half bad. Wait a minute. Haven’t I seen this somewhere before?

zune hd cropapple-iphone-back Oh, that’s right. Jesus, M$. Could you even try?

Consistent with Microsoft’s previous duplication policies, they’ve taken the most aesthetically pleasing aspects of the design and fucked them in the ear.  In this case, we have visible screws (must be for that replaceable battery) and hard-angled bevels.

Companies with less capital than the average European nation would have tanked under the weight of the original debacle.   But Redmond is not content to sit on its laurels: they will not rest until they’ve diverted at least tens of sales that would’ve otherwise gone to superior products.

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