Category Archives: Strategy

Tech Strategy – Change the Game Part 2

The large storage future smart phones?

 

What would some use cases be for a smart phone with lots of storage space? The first market that comes to mind is the developing markets where cell data is expensive and slow for most people. The second is just comes from enabling better customer experiences through a faster user interface. The third is in gaming and video streaming.

 

Think of an app like Yelp, if yelp could store it’s top N restaurants in the current city for the user, then they could zip through the interface in their search for a bite to eat instead of waiting on a network call every time they wanted to see the next 10 restaurants or wanted to switch category filters.

Or Amazon prime instant video, enabling people to download HD content at home and watch it on the road without burning their battery life and data plan.

Or maps that don’t have to reload tiles each time, and could cache the users common routes on phone so the user gets their directions faster and with fewer privacy concerns.

A business user could take their entire email history with them and be able to search through it while on a plane.

The downside is that phones are lost/stolen often and that could create more of an information security hazard, but I’d wager that if people are willing to turn their phones into credit cards, car keys and garage door openers then they shouldn’t be afraid of a thief seeing which Amazon movies they have downloaded.

Higher storage devices would enable streaming like services that don’t always need an internet connection. The app could download a wide selection of music onto the device overnight and provide a similar playback experience to what there is today. Or if piracy is a concern the app could just store 80% of the sound range and stream 20%.

The bottom line is that larger storage capacity is cheap, and could enable longer battery life and better use experience in the hands of a clever development team.

Tech Strategy – Change the Game

I’ve long been a sideline strategist watching the tech titans battle for supremacy, reading articles, taking classes and spending my commutes thinking about the way the tech-tonic plates (puns!) of the market are shifting under our feet.  Which doesn’t make me an expert, but it does lead to some wild ideas that an insider may not consider.

Which is a long winded way of saying, I have another idea for Microsoft.  You may ask, why are all your ideas about Microsoft?  Short answer: their core business is slowly eroding so they need to adapt.  On with the crazy idea, it’s time for Microsoft to change the game when it comes to customers mobile expectations.  Right now customers are used to technologically crippled devices, at least compared to their laptops. And the consumers adapting to these limitations directly erodes the value of the Windows OS value proposition, if you have to rely more on outside services and less on your device then your device matters less.

One way to change expectations is in regards to storage.  This is a three pronged attack against the current duopoly.  First, by pushing devices to market with large storage capacities at lower prices ( 256 gb for example) you grab headlines, look technologically advanced and hopefully shift customer expectations. This impacts your bottom line, but will erode your competitors margins significantly, and since they own a larger share of the market they lose more than you do.

Second, it changes the way a developer approaches building apps.  If it’s now possible to cache the 100 most popular pictures/movies on their device, then they can offer a better user experience via faster loads/transitions for big media files.  You’re letting your partners be creative and offer better product than other platforms.  This helps get your developer mind share back.

Third, and this ties into the last point about developers being able to create new and differentiated experiences on Windows.  You make the device a stronger platform which ties into Windows strength of providing a rich on device experience without the need for connectivity.

Fourth, for developing countries where mobile internet is still expensive, this enables your platform to serve them better by letting them utilize WiFi to load up on content instead of spending big money on connectivity.

Technology has advanced rapidly in the storage and battery arenas.  You can now buy 128GB SD card for less than $100, but Apple still charges $100 extra for half that.  It’s time to chop their margins and change the game.

The Microsoft Plan

Microsoft is changing. Everyone knows it, but no one is quite sure what will come out on the other-side when the transformation is complete. Having recently finished my finals and as I now get re-acquainted with my Xbox, I’ve been thinking about MS, Xbox and where the Redmond giant is going next.

“Services And Devices”

Which is fairly generic, in that they are saying they are going to sell time and stuff, which is the entirety of what you can sell in this world. Dig a bit deeper than that and it’s clear that the ‘stuff’ part is stuff that runs Microsoft software, and the ‘time’ part is selling Microsoft software as a service. So really, it sounds like they aren’t changing what they sell, just how they sell it.

Why are they changing? Simply put, their partners left them high and dry. From my outsider’s perspective, it seemed like MS partners were seeing a race to the commiditization (not a real word?), so they either played that game (Dell, HP) or they tried to use PC sales as a platform for other sales (Sony, IBM).? This left PC devices stagnant in a time when they could have been rapidly evolving. Then mobile hit, and MS had Windows Mobile, but it was built to partner specs, trying to give their partners a platform to build upon.

This is where things like TouchWiz and Sense were born. They were mostly annoying, laggy, and bug-filled attempts by device makers to not be selling commodity phones… while still selling commodity phones. The bugs, carrier pricing and lack of powerful hardware ensured they didn’t make sense for consumers. Then the iPhone happened.

You probably know what happens from here. Smart phone sales explode. Android shows up. Phones get cheaper. Smart phone sales continue exploding (it’s a long explosion). iPad mania happens, Android tablets show up. Now for $100 you get 80% of the functionality of your $500 laptop. PC sales are declining. Windows 8 misses the mark. People start grumbling that Microsoft is dying. Then Ballmer announces he’s stepping down and no one is yet picked to take his place.

The sinking ship’s captain abandons ship!

Awk-ward…

So where does it go from here? One idea is to borrow a few pages out of its competitors playbook and combine them with its playbook that got it to the top. Amazon Prime… Microsoft Prime? Well they have the prime cards already Image But more seriously, it’s time to consolidate all the subscriptions into one mega service “subscription.”

Microsoft Prime Lite:

Xbox Live Gold + Xbox Music + {Some sort of streaming service} + Office 365 + ‘lifetime’ tech support on purchases from MS store + Virus Protection + 10% discount at MS store + 50 GB Skydrive + Skype Premium.

Microsoft Prime Plus:

The same as Prime Lite, but lets customers pick from a list of partners for each service and have MS as the default. Call it an App Store for Services:

Pick one from each set {Xbox Music, Pandora, Spotify} + { Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus } etc.

Microsoft Prime Platinum:

All of the above, plus a new device (tablet, pc, smartphone) free every two years. Again with MS devices as default and partners devices available. Also with premium devices available for an additional fee.

Conclusion-> Consumers! Consumers! Consumers!

And with that, Microsoft could realize its plan to sell its software as “Services and Devices.” Or maybe Microsoft really just plans to copy Apple’s business model. Either way, they need to focus on the end customer first, and partners second, if they are going to claw back into consumer mind-share dominance.