Building an Ecosystem

Microsoft is gearing up to release the next version of the flagship OS, Windows, next year. More importantly, this release will supposedly define a new branding of Microsoft that hopes to provide a consistent experience across all of a Microsoft user’s devices. Here’s a small bit of the quote pulled from Andy Lees, the president of the Windows Phone division:

Windows has always spanned different PC form factors. And with Windows 8 we’re going to take this to a whole new level including tablets.

The concept derives from Microsoft’s overall opinion that the tablet is a type of PC. In the Microsoft perspective, a tablet should do everything a PC does and give the same experience a PC does. A Windows 8 tablet will supposedly look and feel like a Windows 8 PC. The strategy is peculiar and has so far not proven successful with their current tablet releases mimicking Windows XP, but perhaps the OS can be polished up to fit a tablet factor with some significant UI changes that are more touch-friendly.

Horace Dediu makes an observation as to what this change would mean:

For example the new [business] model comes with different cycle time of product development (deep, integrated, yearly changes), different ecosystem (apps), different cost structures (high R&D in hardware), vast scale (device economics, components, ramps), and potentially new distribution (operators in the channel mix.)

A problem with Microsoft is that there is too much copying and not enough innovation. Microsoft recently noted that they wish to continue their retail store expansion, which provides a computer buying experience similar to that of Apple. Microsoft also is pushing to the tablet and mobile phone sector — areas they previously abandoned in the early 90s. The firm is also trying to create an App Store business, which still pales in comparison to the Apple App Store, Android’s Marketplace and the Amazon store.

Does Microsoft know that Post-PC era equates to Post-PC-business era as well? The new concept of this generation is  selling services, not products, and platforms, not just software. Microsoft is still trying to be old Microsoft in more ways that has been previously pointed out: Windows hasn’t been completely refreshed until just now with 8, while other companies have completely revamped their operating systems. Customers do not just want a PC, they want a great, out-of-the-box experience. This experience can only be had when an ecosystem is in place. Deep integration with all of the products provides a consistent, useful experience; not just an experience that acts like a consistent one.

Amazon understands that the ecosystem is the key to success. An Amazon tablet would be the sum total of all of the services that Amazon provides: reading technologies, applications, music, movies, and even general shopping. Amazon took the time to slowly build each piece and understand its core business. Microsoft has tried to place their core business on everything they do — which results in an awkward experience in places you don’t expect the old-PC to be.

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