Microsoft seemed very pleased with itself yesterday, as their Surface franchise managed over $1 billion in global sales for the December quarter. While Microsoft is trumpeting the sales figure, based on an average selling price of $1,000, Microsoft may not have actually sold 1 million Surface devices.
This is Microsoft, a company that has never let reality get in their way. Yesterday they were giddy like school girls about their fledgling 2-in-1 sales increase. Surface revenues rose from $908 million during the September quarter to $1.1 billion in the December quarter. Analysts expected sales of Surface would grow during the largest consumer quarter of the year, but with Microsoft’s massive advertising campaign, the software giant still cannot figure out how to sell over a million of their devices during the largest consumer hardware sales season of the year.
The question that came across my desk this morning is whether Apple’s software is getting better or worse? Thinking back to the initial releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, I can not, with a straight face, say that Apple’s software is getting better. I am not talking about features, but rather quality. OS X Yosemite should never have been released into the public’s hands with its myriad of bugs. Only after its first update 10.10.1 is it now safe to put on my wife’s laptop or my parent’s desktop.
On Monday, Dish Network announced “Sling TV” at CES (Consumer Electronics Show). Sling TV is a $20 per month steaming service that contains a powerful package of networks, including: ESPN, ESPN 2, TNT, CNN, TBS, HGTV, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, and more.
Apparently, Dish is the first provider that has finally identified what every consumer already knows – live sports and live news are the only valued reasons to have a cable subscription. ESPN and Fox News are the gold standards, but Dish Network has come pretty close to hitting the bulls-eye. For only $20, even I, a long term cord-cutter am considering this bundle. The package represents an incredible value. But there is a mammoth unanswered question hanging around this service — Why hasn’t Apple been able to make a deal like this?
The long reigning king of the desktop OS is in trouble. Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, is rapidly steering the company into the back office and service spaces, while their nascent mobile and desktop platforms are crumbling around them. Microsoft is putting on a brave face continuing to heavily advertise the 2-in-1 Surface debacle, but Nadella is only buying time, as he must surely know that Apple and Google is the two-headed beast that Microsoft can not stop. In less than a decade, Microsoft will be associated with IBM or Oracle, not Apple or Google.
Apple’s iOS is poised for massive world-wide growth in 2015 and beyond, while Android is finding its way into embedded systems, cars and medical devices. Android is free, it is customizable and is a platform which is easy to develop upon. C for microcontrollers, Linux and variants of, are being replaced by Android. And while Google pushes Android onto smartphone hardware that has no Apple logo on it, its permanent home may reside within your next generation cars, boats, microwaves, ovens and smart-fridge. The adoption rate of Android may be subtle, and Google is not able profit from the solutions their software empower, but it will be almost everywhere without anyone even knowing it is there. Microsoft has no ability to play where Google's Android is headed.
DigiTimes is at it again, claiming a new iPhone 6 is in the works, according to their “upstream supply chain” contacts. We have bashed on DigiTimes before, as they make an easy target. The Asian tech publication has spewed forth so many “upstream supply chain” nonsense, they should take up the tag line: “Believe us, because even a broken clock is right twice a day.”
Their latest rumor is that an iPhone 6 mini is in the works, and while this might seem like a crazy rumor, ironically, it might have some merit. Here is a look at how an iPhone mini might work for Apple:
You may – or may not – have heard about Google’s latest mobile OS, Android 5.0 Lollipop. If you are one of the rare birds who has actually used Lollipop you may have experienced a few problems, mainly in the area of the OS containing some major screw-ups. The issues are so bad that the few devices that ship, or can support Lollipop, are almost unusable. Think iOS 8.0.1 with more problems and you are on the right track.
Can you hear it? That is Apple’s stealthy, yet highly effective marketing arm about to blow the media’s doors off with Apple Watch hype. This will not be some Microsoftian campaign, where massive kiosks are displayed in Times Square in an effort to create some sort of false enthusiasm. Nor will Apple’s promotion include renting Radio City Music Hall, containing several dance routines and a skit about a single Mom (thanks for searing that into my brain Samsung). Once the holiday season is over, with Christmas iPhones having been unwrapped and the New Years parties complete, Apple will start a quiet, yet savvy campaign for launching its market disruptive Apple Watch.
Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist for Apple in the mid-80’s, was interviewed on Bloomberg Surveillance today. And while Kawasaki has insight on where Apple once was, his ideas of Apple are now clearly from the outside looking in. Guy Kawasaki’s belief that Apple is a luxury brand is simply wrong.
Steve Ballmer may be long gone, well on his way to running The LA Clippers franchise aground, but Microsoft’s obsessions with Apple continues on unabated, wasting countless billions on feckless ads.
Redmond’s software giant began its ineffective assault on Apple after Apple began their award winning “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ad campaign. Microsoft’s top brass looked on as Justin Long and John Hodgman tore up the small-screen with their whimsical yet perfect tone, pro-Mac commercials. One after another, Apple laid the wood down on Microsoft’s failures in the operating system world. Viruses, peripheral issues or ease-of-use — nothing was off limits for Apple to attack Microsoft’s legacy OS. Over the course of three years, from 2006 - 2009, Apple released 66 commercials in the series, with dozens of web-only versions. Apple’s ad campaign beat on Microsoft, but without envy or venom, but largely based on all too well know stereotypical truth, making the commercials funny and light.
You know you are the leader of markets when everyone is coming after you — comparing their products to yours. Samsung has this obsession with its Galaxy 5 and Note 4 ads — directly or indirectly comparing their features to the Apple’s flagship product iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Microsoft runs a close second to Samsung in this regard with its latest ad comparing their Surface Pro 3 to a MacBook Air.