I have a number of other posts I’m working on aimed at exploring where Microsoft and the larger technology industry are headed. It’s a complex set of topics, really, because in my opinion tech is going through some of the most significant changes in the last decade (or more)–the next 12-24 months will likely determine which companies remain viable over the long-term and which will fade away into obscurity. Heady stuff, for sure.
For now, though, I wanted to quickly mention Microsoft’s Super Bowl commercials. They’re excellent, generally, quietly plucking the heartstrings and hitting on important and meaningful topics. But from a business perspective, they’re also just about perfect–highlighting Microsoft products, particularly Windows, in a time of such profound flux would have been a terrible mistake, I think. Let’s face it: Microsoft is on a bit of a hiatus outside of enterprise cloud services during the months between now and whenever Windows 10 is officially released.
And so, it makes perfect sense for Microsoft to highlight where they’re perhaps the best-positioned player. That, I think, is in how Microsoft is developing technology products and services that make meaningful impact in people’s lives. Whether it’s pure “productivity” or creative inventiveness or learning, Microsoft is the most complete company in the industry. Apple is becoming the iPhone company, almost completely consumer-based and lately exuding fashion sense as much as technology chops. Google is an advertising company whose non-search offerings are all over the map and transitory, seeming more like interesting projects than anything approaching actual revenue- and profit-producing products and services (likely because that’s exactly what they are and aren’t).
Microsoft, though, remains a technology company at its core, and offers or is developing products that run the gamut from hardcore gaming to robust enterprise solutions. HoloLens demonstrates that not only are they investigating innovative and unexpected technologies, but they’re turning them into real, shipping products. Apple patents all kinds of interesting ideas that never make it to market. Microsoft is actually making them real.
These ads, I think, exemplify what Microsoft is working towards. Whether or not they succeed comes down to the same old things like execution and market demand–can they accomplish everything they’re attempting and will the market actually accept it? Those are the big questions, and for now the best thing Microsoft can do, in addition to selling to their enterprise customers, is communicate that they’re aiming for more than just fun consumer products.
Just some quick thoughts, then, and now the ads. Again, I think they’re excellent.