Changing Markets

Start-up CEOs constantly talk about managing growth, but rarely about managing change (growth being only one type of change). It happens a thousand times faster in technology markets. Marketing must monitor markets, and identify changes early on (though the better approach is to keep reinventing the market yourself and driving your competitors nuts in the process). Here are a few things to watch, some of which you likely are not. Competitors and partners Competitors never sleep, and are trying to reinvent themselves, market expectations and the shape of the known universe. Monitoring what they do as well as what they say is important. What they do exposes areas of the market they think are of growing or shrinking importance, and this needs to be folded into your positioning planning. What they say reveals … Continue reading

Microsoft Defense Dance

Is Microsoft buying Nokia a final point of Ballmer failure? Likely not, but with his track record one has to wonder. Microsoft is buying Nokia’s handset hardware business and licensing Nokia mobile technology patents (something that Apple also did after a nasty bout of litigation). Most folks think Microsoft is attempting to clone Apples 360° product offering. Microsoft already started down this road with their Surface tablets, which received rave reviews from both customers. Recognizing that they are desperately behind in the now-dominating consumer mobile market, Microsoft seems to be building a new product offering by bringing all the hard and software in-house. (The obvious punch line is that Microsoft is adopting their own orphan since Nokia is the only handy maker squarely behind mobile Windows) The more interesting aspect of this news item is Nokia’s patents, which Microsoft is licensing (Nokia was wise not to sell that revenue stream). … Continue reading

Ballmer Bye-Bye?

Is it time for Steve Ballmer to bail? I don’t pick on Steve for the fun of it — not entirely at least.  I bring up the dreaded discussion of putting a new captain at the helm because after a decade with Ballmer as skipper, the good ship Microsoft is foundering, leaking between nearly every plank.  In an era where everything changed, Microsoft did not change fast enough and has failed to catch the rising tides. Apple has not capitalized on everything and yet Apple now has a market cap larger than Microsoft (which we can take with a few drops of sea water since Apple’s forward P/E ratio is more than 50% higher than Microsoft’s, showing that navigators see better odds with Jobs on the investment horizon). Drucker wisely noted that “Business has only two basic functions – marketing and innovation.”  High tech is uniquely a product of both.  … Continue reading