I can hear it, can you? A popular podcaster, Jason Calacanis has advised companies in the past to be wary of launching a technology product on top of someone else’s platform. Many great Facebook and Twitter apps have simply been knocked off by the platforms, and subsequently knocked right out of business. Calacanis himself fell victim as his business at the time was largely dependent on YouTube, and while Google did not knock off his content, they simply made a change to the search which orphaned his content… same result. And now here we have Microsoft.
Talk about being dependent on someone else’s platform, just about everything out there was built to run on Windows. Almost every business is up the creek without Windows and Microsoft Office. While Microsoft clearly has their eyes on a couple of competitors in particular, Google, Apple and Salesforce, many other smaller operators are going to get ground up in those competitive gears. A week does not go by that Microsoft is not announcing something new. This product development cadence is not something we are used to from Microsoft. I mean they only retired XP last month after 13 years. While I think Ballmer clearly restarted the growth engine before he left, Satya Nadella has mashed the pedal to the metal. It’s almost like they completely re-invented the company in the last couple of years.
Right now, there is a lot if disintermediation going on by Microsoft, both intentional and unintentional. In going after Google with Office 365, Microsoft cut the knees off all the Hosted Exchange providers with their direct model. In targeting Salesforce.com with Dynamics CRM Online, they have done the same thing with Hosted Dynamics CRM providers. Microsoft Azure is going to lay waste to the rest of the hosters. As a partner, you need to pay close attention to where Microsoft is pointing their ship so you don’t get washed into their prop. If you are going to make a living with Microsoft, as we do, you better swim with their current. I am fine with that, in fact, I am thrilled with the direction(s) they are going… of course, I did not develop Evernote, or DropBox or any of the other multitude of gap-filling products that are being squeezed as Microsoft closes gaps on its own. I mean, Evernote only got to exist, because Microsoft had not taken OneNote far enough… until now.
In every product category, Microsoft is launching like matches thrown in a roadside fireworks tent. Is it all perfect out of the gate? No, but they have enough resources and runway to get there that I sure wouldn’t be betting against them today. You would be hard-pressed to name a needed product out there that solves a problem that Microsoft can’t. Go ahead, my comments are open.