By Adam Doud | October 15, 2013 7:00 AM
Last week, we discussed a little company called Microsoft and talked about what kind of market they’d like to focus on. We also briefly chatted about the kinds of devices it would be wise to bring to those markets. But our analysis pretty focused on one market when another went largely undiscussed. And that previously undiscussed market is “Enterprise.” Microsoft should focus on enterprise, as well as the low-end/emerging market.
Of course, I like using the term enterprise, because it instantly perks Michael Fisher’s ears, but once you remove Scott Bakula from the discussion, it becomes decidedly less interesting. But as vanilla as discussing purchasing strategies of large scale companies can be, let’s just roll up our sleeves and dive right in shall we?
And then there were none
When Blackberry bucked the kicket, I would love to say it left a big gaping hole in the industry. Formerly, enterprise and corporations were Blackberry’s bread and butter. It was only with reluctance that they initially ventured into the consumer space. If you were a middle manager, you carried a Blackberry. It was simple as that.
Suddenly, Blackberry went away. They pulled back and huddled into their labs and crowded into their boardrooms for two years. “They’ll still be there when we finish, right?” they thought. Nnnnyeah…. not so much.
During the hiatus, those corporations’ managers went out and bought iPhones and Droids, and brought those to work asking their IT groups, “How about these?” The IT groups reported to the bean counters who said “You bought your own? That could work.” So the bean counters told the big bosses, and the big bosses said, “Alrighty, let’s do it” and loaded up their golden parachutes with a few extra tens of thousands of dollars, and everyone ended up happy. And so it went that IT Departments started working with iOS and Android and Blackberrys began to just go away.
New kid on the block
Now, there’s another player in town – another player whose products most of these corporations already use. Microsoft is the very definition of ubiquity in today’s corporate environment. Microsoft sells millions of dollars of software, and licenses, and services to corporations worldwide every day. And Microsoft has phones too. It’s a small step to think that maybe Microsoft could start pushing phones into the hands of those same corporations. Can you say bundling?
This is the one key advantage that Microsoft has over Apple and Google, and almost every Android OEM out there. Microsoft is already in the door, in the conference rooms, at the strip clubs I mean sales meetings. It’s a simple matter of saying, “You know, as long as your licensing those 10,000 copies of Windows 8, we have these tablets that work just like them, and they include Office already – no fuss, no muss. Oh and by the way, we’ve got these phones that work pretty darn well with all those exchange servers you have running already.”
If it worked for them…
That is, after all, how Blackberry got their start. Corporate professionals brought their smartphones home and their families saw how cool it was to read and reply to email and surf the web from the phone. Microsoft has been doing a lot right with Windows Phone, and they’ve brought it to a level that almost competes evenly with the other two big boys on the playground. Getting their phones, even their low-end versions, into the hands of those same professionals who brought home those Blackberrys a decade ago could boost Windows Phone’s popularity among young professionals and their families. Then all they have to do is not disappear for two years.
I’m not saying Microsoft should abandon emerging markets. But let’s not forget about breaking further into the emerged market as well. Those low-end phones are just as important as this enterprise strategy. Microsoft really can’t afford to let any opportunity go to waste at this point. Windows Phone is small, but gaining steadily, but it’s not exactly the meteoric rise that we’re all looking for.
What have you done for me?
The question is – all this low-end phone/enterprise phone stuff – how is that going to benefit us? How will this affect those of us not in a corporate environment or in an emerging market? Initially, not a heck of a lot. But platform notoriety, regardless of where it comes from is definitely a positive, no matter where you lie in the spectrum. The more people who use a platform, the more developer support there is, the more apps there are, and maybe Google can finally get on board and let Microsoft sit at the big boy table finally.
This is all a long, long way away of course, and in the meantime, Microsoft is a solid, but distant third place. But as long as Microsoft is already on every computer at major corporations worldwide, why not be on their tablets and phones too? It’s time for those salesmen to earn their paychecks. It’s not a big step, so take it.