Opinion

New game plan for Microsoft | Rudi Alcott

With apologies to Willy Shakes: to iPhone 4S or not to 4S? That is the question. And it shouldn’t be.

Most of you know that I am dyed-in-the-wool Microsoft. Always have been. I love that company. For my family and friends, this has turned out to be a good thing, as they have built-in technical support. I have yet to figure out how to monetize this, so most of the time it has come as a free service. Oh, to be sure, I have items that have been paid as barter for services, such as a Lou Holtz autographed Notre Dame cap, various coins for my collection and such. But most of the time, it has been a non-revenue generation stream. Not exactly a business plan I would take to the bank.

That said, my weapon of choice is the Apple iPhone 3G. During its prime a couple of years ago, it was the best on the market. That is painful for me to say. To bring an Apple product into my house is a little bit like giving chocolate to a diabetic — you just don’t do it. This product has come to the end of its useful life and I must decide where to go next.

I won’t be the first to admit the iPhone has been a revolutionary tool, but the 3G hasn’t been without its issues. Apple quit supporting it after uploading IOS 4, which essentially made my phone, and a couple of million others, a paper weight. I have reinstalled the IOS several times, yet I can still launch the Facebook app, finish reading the first couple of hundred posts today on Tim Tebow and then check my status. It’ll be launched by then — most of the time.

So, Microsoft, what seems to be the hold-up here? Are the folks up in Redmond spending too much time putting fuel in their Ferraris and Porsches, or too much time playing Xbox? It’s your turn. You outlived your nemesis. Get back in the game. I’m calling you out. I want to spend money with you, but you have a product that no one, not even me — your biggest fan — will use. Look, you gave away your newest Windows phone to all of your 30,000 employees for free. I have a number of program manager friends that work for you and they carry iPhones, which they gladly pay for so they don’t have to use your free phone. My meager intelligence leads me to believe that isn’t a good thing.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The business you are in is a zero sum game. Apple is winning and biting into what used to be a dominating lead. You’re on the losing end of the sum. You don’t have the comfort to rest on your laurels. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. You scored with Windows 7, but it’s not enough to carry over to your next product launch.

All hope is not lost. Here’s what we are going to do. You’re going to put out an all-points bulletin (APB) to the employees that have been stealing their paychecks. You’re not going to have them arrested, but sit them down in a couple of the 47 conference rooms you have on campus and diplomatically redirect their thinking (managerially speaking, this is “get it together or you’re fired”). Then we’re going to all gather in a rather large circle and say, “ready 1, 2, 3, break.”

In other words, we are going to become a team again. No more split factions, infighting, corporate politics or finger pointing. We are going to undo what we have become, and what we used to despise — a big business. We are going to have multiple six-pack, caffeine-fueled, Coca-Cola meetings where we throw items at a white board that are beyond comprehension, virtually impossible to accomplish and somehow make them a reality.

We will press our vendors to develop new tools and machines to produce these impossible products. We will let our minions in marketing, who never let the truth get in the way of a sell, generate worldwide exposure announcing Microsoft is once again back on top. We will rush it to market with such an incredible fervor and following that everyone will be forced to buy it.

In other words, we will become the new Apple, the company Microsoft used to be.

Don’t worry. I’ll be there for you. I’ll help you troubleshoot it. Just give me the ability to have this option. And hurry. My 4S contract runs out in two years. Call me. I’ll charge you though, unless you give me a couple of free copies of Windows 8.

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