Microsoft changing value chain

I think part of Microsoft DNA is running after Apple in the consumer arena. After copying the window User Interface of the Mac computers 25 years ago, they are currently copying its value chain. I mean Apple integrated value chain. If you think of Microsoft as a software company, you are wrong. It is now a service and device company.

Microsoft value chain

Microsoft value chain

As Apple did they want to control every step of their value chain from content and services to devices.

They have services like skype, skydrive. They aggregate content and provide platforms both software and hardware. And since it is a device maker with Xbox, Surface PCs and tablets, and Mobiles with the recent Nokia acquisition.

What they still miss is some retail presence like apple stores. The danger here for Microsoft is to upset its long standing partnership with PC manufacturers. But can they fight back at Microsoft move in their backyard? The answer seems no. Linux isn’t an alternative in the mass market, neither is Chrome OS from Google or Android. Microsoft has been upset at their tablet attempts with Android. Now PC makers have a few years before Microsoft gets the lead in the PC consumer market. Some are trying to reinvent themselves like Dell who wants to focus on the business segment.

The missing part for Microsoft is Distribution and Retail. Will Microsoft open some flagship store or some corner within existing stores like Darty, Fnac, Saturn, Currys, or PC world ? I bet they will.

Vertical integration seems to be the unstoppable business model, every IT giant is running after including Google and Amazon. Until someone finds a smart and disruptive new business model.

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Why my company will unsubscribe GoogleApps

At first we thought that Google Apps was a good idea. It provides cool tools to collaborate and can replace Microsoft Office more or less.

But as in every company new people join some people leave. Here is the harsh discovery. When people leave your organisation you expect to keep the documents they have create and the contribution they’ve made, as you would expect from a file server or drive.

But Google Apps isn’t working like this. Google Apps is just a collection of individuals that collaborate not individuals working in an organization. So when they leave all their docs disappear! Unless you’ve been wise enough to ask them to transfer the property of the doc to someone staying.

To put it in a nutshell, we will unsubscribe Google Apps and restore our file server with LbreOffice on every PC. Google Apps ? A false good idea for enterprises.

PS : We haven’t tried Office 365 from Microsoft. But Microsoft is in the enterprise business long enough to avoid this kind of bug.

An Android phone or a Samsung ?

Samsung has a problem : it depends too much on Android

Google has a problem : it depends too much on Samsung

Android accounts now 70% of smartphone sales and Samsung devices accounts 70% of Android. Google is trying to push other manufacturers not to say it is pushing hard its device device arm Motorola.  On the other side, Samsung is not betting on Windows Phone and has dropped its proprietary Bada platform. So what’s cooking? Samsung will apparently launch a few Tizen phones on the marke thi year.

And what is Tizen? Don”t be mistaken, Tizen is not a Samsung proprietary OS like Bada. Tizen is the merge of Intel efforts (previoulsy Meego) and Operators works (LiMo) in a fully open source initiative. Unlike Android, there won’t be one company in the driving seat but Operators (Vodafone, NTT, Orange,…) and Manufacturers (Intel, Samsung, ZTE, …).

> Tizen association website

We can imagine Samsung will customize its Tizen devices with the same Touchwiz UI it is using on Android. Hence consumers will hardly notice the difference.

Tizen screenshots

Tizen screenshots

Samsung with operator backing sounds very promising. Google seems to have now a bigger problem. Now the question will be on the application side. Will Tizen have enough applications to compete with the other platforms?

SmartTV Alliance getting momentum

The SmartTV or Connected TV is basically a TV set with added features:

  • Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) receiver
  • Internet connection capabilities
  • A processor, enough memory and OS to run a web browser
  • A SDK to develop compatible applications or services

SmartTV principle

Whereas IPTV covers today the same but the Internet part is provided through a set-top-box usually provided by the ISP.

SmartTV are still not featuring standardized OSes. The OS part is usually based on a Linux distribution customized by the manufacturer or the chipset vendor. Some Chinese manufacturers are starting to base their OS on customized Android.

The SmartTV Alliance led by LG, Toshiba and Philips is clearly a signal that manufacturers don’t want to give the keys of their TV ecosystem to Google, Microsoft or others. The Smart TV Alliance is set to release a common SDK to simplify the work of developers. An application based on this SDK will run without any change on all LG, Philips and Toshiba SmartTVs.

But will it be enough? Will manufacturers have enough time to strengthen their TV stronghold before the barbarians aka Google and Co try to take it by storm?

Google transforms it Nexus strategy into hero device portfolio strategy

With the acquisition of Motorola, Google needed to change its Nexus device strategy.

At major every software release of Android, Google picked up a vendor and worked with it on a hero device with the full Android experience (No UI on top). These devices were then branded Google Nexus by manufacturer X.

Now that Motorola is a Google company, suspicion is lurking around. Will Motorola get a competitive advantage of 3 to 6 months? It is not a big deal for Chinese makers like Huawei and ZTE but more of a showstopper for Samsung. And after all Samsung is the most successful Android powered manufacturer with its Galaxy portfolio.

Samsung Galaxy SIII

This Nexus portfolio is both a blessing and a curse: manufacturers will be able to launch devices with the latest Android release but at the time they won’t be able to customize the devices or put their own services on board.

With this new strategy Google succeeds in three ways:

  • Block customization of hero devices
  • Maintain the manufacturer momentum behind Android
  • Give time to Motorola to ramp up and try to overtake Samsung

Maybe its time for Samsung to start a new platform on its own beyond Tizien and Bada, and acquire an advanced mobile OS like RIM’s QNX.