Jul 072010
 

With the recent Kin debacle, some people who talk about tech for a living have started to look at Microsoft as a company that might actually suck. Whispers about the company’s slow demise can be heard as far as the hallowed halls of ZDNet and Computerworld. Somewhere, the riders of the apocalypse are saddling their horses.

Take MiniMicrosoft, for example. Always a voice of straight talk within the Borg, MiniM$ went on a tear about the Kin. An awesome quote from a former Danger (the company that Microsoft acquired to squander their innovations with the Kin) employee sums it up nicely:

Consider this, in less than 10 years with 1/10 of the budget Microsoft had for PMX, we created a fully multitasking operating system, a powerful service to support it, 12 different device models, and obsessed and supportive fans of our product…

When we were first acquired, we were not taking long lunches and coffee breaks. We were committed to help this Pink project (the project that evolved into Kin) out and show our stuff. But when our best ideas were knocked down over and over and it began to dawn on us that we were not going to have any real affect on the product, we gave up. We began counting down to the 2 year point so we could get our retention bonuses and get out.

Of course, anyone with an iota of sense who isn’t on Microsoft’s payroll in some way has been on them about destroying the value of any of their consumer product offerings – whether developed or acquired. It’s like some kind of CE shit-finger. The Dimunitive One taps the nose yet again:

…we only excel at taking the financial boon of Windows and Office and giving it over to leadership that totally blows it down the drain like an odds-challenged drunk in Vegas. And the shareholders continue to suffer in silence. And the drunks are looking for their next cash infusion.

The stink lines have been streaking off this carcass since they first started thinking they could innovate with the same talent they showed using their monopoly power to run competitors out of the market. First Google destroys them in search – and then mobile devices. Then Apple parlays superior offerings into a industry force that crushes their market cap. I only hope Ballmer sticks around long enough to see it through to the end that’s so obviously coming.

Jun 302010
 

Microsoft sure is getting good at killing products. Last month it was the non-product Courier, which got some significant starring roles in animations that were leaked to the tech press around the time of the iPad’s launch.

This month Redmond is putting its recently-released Kin phones out to pasture – less than 2 months after a marketing blitz of a release that featured impeccably-dressed angsty tweens and continued a Microsoft tradition of top-notch advertising. The company says it will integrate the Kin group, led by Sidekick data-killer Roz Ho, with the Windows Phone Series 7 Series Phone Thingy team.

It’s refreshing to see Microsoft being able to pull the plug not just on products they had no intention of releasing anyway, but on things that actually ship. This level of discipline and self-awareness bodes well for them, even if the 48 day flameout of a major product line is – how can one put this gently – a fucking abomination? If realizing no one wants your consumer electronics offerings is the prerequisite for getting axed, one wonders if Microsoft will even have a Entertainment and Devices division in the near term.

Jul 012009
 

Everyone’s favorite Microshill Mary-Jo Foley continues to build her case for a Microsoft entry into the mobile phone hardware business: Project Pink.

Not to be confused with a fundraiser for breast cancer‚ the interface for the Project Pink phone is supposedly being designed by the Danger‚ Inc. folks that M$ picked up via acquisition last year.  Who are they?  Aside from being creators of how-to videos that make you want puncture your eardrums with something sharp‚ they were the masterminds behind the Sidekick phone software.

Ed: Danger pulled said eardrum-splitting video.

So it’ll be based on WinMo‚ but with a whimsical Danger overlay?  Maybe smartphone hardware with hip software?  Sounds about as well thought-out as any piece of consumer electronics M$ has put out to me.  Microsoft may also slap their name on the hardware.  Sweet Christ let that please be true.

Even though Microsoft is capable of announcing products that look finished – complete with appearances on late-night TV and star athlete endorsements – 18 months prior to their promised ship dates‚ Mary Jo is having a hard time pinning Redmond down on details.  One thing that is known:  McCann Erickson has been hired to manage the ad campaign for the PinkyPhone.  You may remember them as the firm who directed the Halo 3 campaign for the 360.  In that campaign‚ according to the firm‚ the challenge was changing the question from “how do you pull $40 million of milk from a dried-up titty how do you market a video game?” to “how do you honor a hero?”.  In Pink’s case‚ the challenge will be changing the question from “what the fuck is Microsoft thinking?” to “you guys made the Sidekick?”.

When it comes to shitty follow-ups to competitors’ successful products‚ no one walks into a punch quite like M$.  Here’s to another billion-dollar capital spigot!  Cheers!

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