One good thing about Microsoft (MSFT): apparently it harbors no hard feelings. To surf over to an eweek.com story entitled "10 Reasons Why Microsoft Tech Dominance is Over," I had to click through one of those annoying 12-second eweek.com ads, paid for by Microsoft.
The thing that took me to the eweek.com article is that I never considered Microsoft as having "tech dominance," just good software at low prices and obviously great channel marketing going back to the day it got in the door with the IBM PC group. Until its partners such as IBM and others woke up one morning 20 years later and realized that Microsoft was eating into their enterprise software market share, Microsoft didn't even have to do much marketing. The PC and server makers, enterprise application suppliers, and systems integrators did it for Microsoft.
Sure enough, the eweek.com article is about markets, not technology. Here are 10 reasons why the eweek.com article is one of the worst pieces of technical journalism I've ever seen (and that's against a low bar). Enterprise- and other software investors should be aware:
- The timelines are all wrong. For example, Microsoft didn't "recently decide to make a play" for the software and browser markets (there are many similar timing disconnects in the eweek.com 10 Reaons list itself)
- There is no browser market. You can't buy one so therefore there is no market by definition (an understanding of that simple economic concept would reduce the content on the Internet by a half).
- The article's description of what is happening in the Search market is misleading. No one argues that Bing is not doing well in gaining market share vs. Google (GOOG). Of course Bing has a long way to go just as Google has a long way to go in the personal productivity software market against Microsoft but to argue that this is the case of losing dominance is preposterous.
- Speaking of which, note the general description of Google in the article and the fact that Google is doing well according to eweek.com in new market areas where it is choosing not to compete with Microsoft, not in the few markets where the two do compete. I might think a Google PR person ghosted this article but not even the worst PR person I ever dealt with would want to be involved with this journalistic travesty
- Then there is the whole screw-up in the Microsoft hardware division which has eweek.com in a twitter (old meaning of the word)
- There is some incoherent jargon-filled commentary about cloud computing that somehow works in Google's favor. Had eweek.com said salesforce.com (CRM) or Oracle (ORCL), numbers one and two respectively in promoting that 50-year-old software delivery method, were doing well compared to Microsoft, it might be worth analyzing the statement. But as it is, it is just more gibberish.
- Clearly stretching for 10 reasons, eweek.com claims that one of Microsoft's problems is it is "a changed company" since Bill Gates retired. I wonder how many eweek.com articles I could find where eweek.com said Bill Gates should retire (or be put in jail)
- There's some claptrap about Apple (APPL) "starting to emerge." Gee, I guess Microsoft's $150 million 1997 investment in the "startup" must have paid off well.
- Of course, it's just terrible that Microsoft lost its long term leadership in the phone market to Apple. Huh? Getting its operating software seeded in the phone market was one channel marketing effort where Microsoft dropped the ball (see above for many winners). But to say that that revenue stream was ever an important part of the Microsoft business is bizarre.
- The most egregious of the eweek.com claims is the lead-off statement that "The company (Microsoft) that once dominated everything in the tech space is now being relegated to second and even third place in some markets." I can't think of any realistically defined software market in which Microsoft has been "relegated" out of first place (and almost everywhere where Microsoft is competing but is not in first, it is gaining on first).
Concerning this 10th eweek.com falsehood, I admit that I might be able to slice and dice some software market using three or four qualifiers and then parse a sentence in such a way to make the statement accurate. I used to get paid well to do just that. The eweek.com author tries to do this with the "phone market" baloney but of course, because Microsoft never had Nokia, it never had any dominance to lose (in a market that wasn't that big at the time anyways).
If you think of the major subsets of the applications software and infrastructure software worlds (which actually should not be thought of separately)--personal productivity, ERP, and standalone applications; database, middleware and operating system infrastructure software--Microsoft is number one in three and second or third in the others, and gaining. Of course overall, Microsoft leads the software market, and is more than twice the size of its next nearest competitors, IBM and Oracle. If you removed legacy-mainframe-based software from the analysis, where IT users really have no choices, the dominance is even greater.
I am no apologist for Microsoft as a regular reader of my past and present blog posts here and elsewhere will realize. But this eweek.com article is such bogus pandering to the conventional wisdom that is deserves some kind of prize for how not to write a piece of technical journalism.
-- Dennis Byron to
(no financial interest in companies mentioned except for the $12 a year I pay Microsoft for Office)