NEWS ANALYSIS: Microsoft had a tough 2011 given all the competitive challenges it's facing in multiple markets. But it's setbacks were exacerbated by all the dumb things the company did during the year.
Microsoft had an
inauspicious 2011. The company watched as its chief rivals, Google and Apple,
continued to report rapid growth while it struggled to gain traction in the
mobile technology market. Windows, while still popular, was under attack from
all sides as Mac OS X's star rose and Google delivered Chrome OS in the hopes
of eventually dislodging Windows' position as the world's standard desktop
In some cases, Microsoft's
troubles during the year were through no fault of its own. Its competitors
simply found a way to offer products that had greater appeal to consumers and
But it wasn't all the
competition's fault. Microsoft this year made a host of major mistakes that
hurt its ability to gain ground across the many markets it does business in.
Going into 2012, the company will need to work as hard to correct these
mistakes as it does responding to a host of competitive challenges.
Here is a sampling of the
many dumb things Microsoft did over the last 12 months.
1. Where were the tablets?
Going into 2011, Microsoft needed to offer tablets to consumers and enterprise users
. But by
the end of the year, it hadn't done so. Now, Microsoft is saying that it will
bring Windows 8-based tablets to the market in 2012. But based on its history,
many critics are wondering if it will follow through on that promise.
2. Let Google cement its lead online
Throughout the year,
Microsoft knew all too well that the Web was vastly important to its future
success. And yet, the company did little to dramatically improve Bing market
position. Furthermore its online-advertising platform is second-rate compared
with Google's. Microsoft effectively allowed Google to cement its lead online.
3. Failing to acquire a handset maker
Windows Phone 7 in jeopardy
and handset makers offering Android on their
best designs, it would have been prudent of Microsoft to acquire a hardware
vendor. By doing so, it could control both software and hardware and finally
get Windows Phone 7 on the map. Instead, Microsoft signed a poorly crafted deal
with Nokia (more on that in a bit).
4. Let Android get away
Android saw its market share
grow substantially in 2011. Microsoft, meanwhile, saw its market share slip
during the year, as people appeared to ignore Windows Phone 7 devices in favor
of the iPhone and Android units. Part of the problem was likely that carriers
weren't offering a lot of Windows Phone handsets. It was a sobering year for
Microsoft's mobile division. But it didn't necessarily help itself in any way. The
company failed to take the fight to Android and show a clear distinction
between the platforms. It was a huge mistake on Microsoft's part.