Microsoft’s recent Surface tablet launch has been labelled the worst technology product launch in ten years by Michael Saylor, founder and CEO of business intelligence vendor MicroStrategy.
Speaking at the company’s MicroStrategy World conference being held in Amsterdam, Saylor said the move by Microsoft was one of desperation that would end up alienating partners and customers.
"I think it’s the most disastrous product announcement in a decade," Saylor said. "If I was teaching at business school I don’t think you could pick an announcement that would be illustrative of more mistakes than the Microsoft announcement."
The "mistakes" made by Microsoft include spending many years working with the likes of HP and Dell for hardware while it provided the software, only to then decide to make a tablet and manufacture the hardware as well.
Saylor also said the launch itself was a mistake. "Microsoft is saying ‘Here’s a tablet but you can’t buy it because we aren’t shipping it, we don’t know what the price will be and we don’t know when it’ll ship. We normally work with Intel but we’re not sure that will work so we’re making another version with ARM and we’ve got one operating system but that might not work so there will be another one’," he said.
Saylor drew comparisons with Apple’s launches, where products are available almost as soon as they are announced. He talked about "freezing the market", when people stop buying the old products as soon as a replacement is announced.
"Logic dictates that you better damn well be shipping the new product when you announce it because you don’t want to freeze the old product and not have a new one. That’s disastrous, it’ll take you off a cliff," he said. "Common sense would say that before you freeze the market and alienate your customers and partners you better to have something good to show. Microsoft managed to alienate HP, Dell, Intel and every CIO."
He said that move smacks of desperation as the company is "increasingly being viewed as irrelevant to the future of software" and needs to get some attention back on its own efforts. Publicly displaying your product roadmap long before they will be available is another poor step, Saylor added, as it just gives competitors time to work on a rival product.
Speaking to CBR, Saylor added that another of Microsoft’s recent big moves, the partnership with Nokia, was also a bad move.
"Nokia killed Symbian, which started their free fall, and they did it before they had a decent product from Microsoft. They should have gone to Android," he told CBR. "So you ended up with a phone company with no confidence in their ability to do software and a software company with no confidence to do their hardware. They joined together but it’s been discredited and I can’t see any company benefiting from it."
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