Russ: Microsoft’s Consumer Electronics Endgame

I should really start calling this blog the “Russell Beattie Disagreement Blog” ;)

No, honestly – it’s not that bad. I highly respect Russ’s writings and opinions, but there are some issues that I think he might be coming to conclusions too soon.

In his post about Microsoft’s coming dominance of the digital media market (here), he makes some statements that I think are probably a bit premature:

“Well, I’ve been watching Microsoft’s moves over the past few weeks and I can pretty much say that it’s game over for a lot of Microsoft competitors, though they may not realize it yet. To me the decisive move was their MSN Video announcement which included deals with MTV as well as TiVo to make sure that TiVo To Go recordings play on Microsoft Mobile devices. That’s when I saw the big picture: Microsoft’s DRM strategy and Windows Media WMA codec are going to allow them to have a massive advantage in the consumer electronics market, which includes everything from MP3 players, to mobile phones to your set-top box, to a host of other converged devices.”

I agree with Doc here – I think the game has barely begun. Scoble is – of course – happy about Russ’s staements, but I think a perfect analysis of why we haven’t even started yet is Mattias Nordström‘s CES report:

“I’m definately not a Microsoft fan and have my homebrew media center, however, I thought it would be interesting to see what over 10 billion dollars in R&D brings. It’s 1998 all over again. When the time came for the demonstration, Bill Gates definately managed to show how easy it was to use. A gathering of technically capable people, yet the Media Center had frozen and they couldn’t get it running. Thank god for Conan and his jokes, as Bill obviously isn’t a TV person, sitting there probably wondering what went wrong and who to fire. If they can’t make it work, how on earth are the consumers going to?”

Usability is make or break in this space, and this is exactly why Apple entering this market is more than just fighting for the niche. Though they’ll probably never beat Microsoft in terms of market share, they’ll rip them to bits in terms of happy customers.

And I’d much rather be a happy customer of a 2% market share company than swearing at Microsoft crap, thank you very much.


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