Thursday, March 01, 2007

Ray Ozzie Wakes up to Google alarm

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's Chief Solution architect who succeeded Bil Gates for that position, did something on 27 Feb 2007 that leading executives of Microsoft are not known to do- acknowledge the succcess of business rivals. He acknowledged that Google's success with its advertising model was a "wake-up call within Microsoft". Many within Microsoft would possibly consider such an acknowledgement as nothing short of sacrilege but it clearly shows the yeah-they-got-it-right-we-didn't thought process in Microsoft's top management quarters.

They possibly acknowledged it silently by allowing you to choose your own search engine such as Google and ASK in IE 7.0 i search box rather than force MSN/Live search on you.

Another interesting development is his comment about the success of MS Office as having withstood the onslaught of the likes of Zoho and Google Docs saying they 'compromised functionality'. Not sure if he was asked on the declining marketshare of Internet Explorer but surely his take on Firefox would be something of interest to many.

Microsoft is known to orchestrate large programs and projects which take years to mature(start with a 'code name', make the 'code name' public, build excitement over years), where most successful web comanies such as Google and Yahoo remain nimblefooted and keep a very sharp eye on promising startups which they acquire and make it as part of their services block, recent example being YouTube, which Google acquired for USD 1.6 BN, which incidentlly Steve Ballmer reportedly likened to a copyright disaster waiting to happen. They are also yet to figure out who is their competiton in the Web 2.0, merely few named companies(which if they acknowledge would be good) or the mushroom kind of evolution pattern of the internet(which if they acknowledge would be better).

Another possible aspect possibly overlooked is the service versus product issue. The service vs product line has somewhat blurred in the recent years, and Web 2.0 is dominated by things such as widgets. The internet usage itself has changed over the years, it is not just a platform where corporations run websites and users visit those sites- lot of users themselves create content, and I am not sure how Microsoft is enabling anyone other than providing a browser.

All said, Microsoft remains a great company, and a well organized one. Perhaps too well organized for the Web 2.0 era, where organizational chaos often leads to innovations.
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