Bonum Certa Men Certa

Corporate Journalism Says “Microsoft's Consumer Brand is 'Dying'”, Now We Need to Worry About Apple

Cemetery in snow

Summary: Microsoft is moving rapidly into its IBM-like demise, but this does not mean that software freedom wins just yet; Apple too is a company to keep our eyes on

In the previous post we showed Microsoft losing ground on the Web. This is true not just when it comes to deployed technology; it's also true when it comes to Web news coverage, which is why Techrights decided to de-emphasise Microsoft, just as it de-emphasised Novell when it was put up for sale and then stopped doing anything of significance.

Microsoft hardly appears in the media anymore and its cash cows too are suffering (showing declines). The company can only try to approach children now. It tries getting them addicted to the #1 cash cow, Microsoft Office, with the help of state schools, which the Gates Foundation is meanwhile putting under its thumb. Anyway, that monopoly too is said to be at risk in schools, according to assessments like this new one, which also gives historical perspective:

Office 2010 won me back as a power user after Office 2003 stunk, Office 2007 was good but not great, and both OpenOffice and Google Apps had become quite compelling. Office 2010 was just so powerful and feature-rich that it was hard to ignore.

More schools may gradually realise that they don't need Office anymore, so Microsoft will just dump it free of charge (long-term investment). This is also an area where the Gates Foundation helps Microsoft getting children stuck with Microsoft, much to their parents' or teachers' regret sometimes. Anyway, a recent downgrade of Microsoft said explicitly that school children moving to other operating systems was a reason to believe that Microsoft's future was not promising. All children are tomorrow's adults after all.

As if the many recent downgrades of Microsoft were not strong enough an indicator of Microsoft's demise, the corporate media calls Microsoft "a dying consumer brand". Mind the CNN headline "Microsoft is a dying consumer brand" (an article that made waves yesterday, e.g. [1, 2]). It tries to be reasonable:

Consumers have turned their backs on Microsoft. A company that once symbolized the future is now living in the past.

Microsoft has been late to the game in crucial modern technologies like mobile, search, media, gaming and tablets. It has even fallen behind in Web browsing, a market it once ruled with an iron fist.


A rundown of Microsoft's major consumer projects finds trouble in almost all of them.

Internet Explorer's popularity has been waning for years, and one recent study showed that for the first time in more than a decade, more people are using alternative browsers. The browser is becoming the single most critical piece of software on a device -- potentially eclipsing the operating system -- but all of the major innovations of the past few years, like tabbed browsing and add-on extensions, came from outside Microsoft.

Windows Phone 7 has promise, but Microsoft dug itself an enormous hole with the subpar Windows Mobile platform. With its market share currently sitting below 5%, developers are taking a "wait and see" approach.

The article itself may not be as harsh on Microsoft as the headline. As our reader "Twitter" put it last night:

I did not have to wait long for perfection. Laura Didio is quoted in this CNN puff piece about the death of Microsoft as a "consumer brand".

"In this age, the race really is to the swift. You cannot afford to be an hour late or a dollar short," says Laura DiDio, principal analyst at ITIC. "Now the biggest question is: Can they make it in the 21st century and compete with Google and Apple?" Some influential analysts think not.

The rest of the article is devoted to downplaying the obvious irrelevance and reduced profitability of the company. They run through the littiny of failures, Zune, IE, Vista but pump up supposed business purchases of Windows 7 as evidence of hope for the company. They do point out that people prefer other program when given the choice at work, but GNU/Linux and other free software is not mentioned.

Laura Didio's revival as an analyst is a little less surprising than the revival of O'Gara. Didio was a principle promoter of the Amitiville Horror fraud back in the 1970s. Her Wikipedia article suffered a ghostly deletion but most of the info is still in the wikibin and the fun parts are:

While still in collage and working as a News Assistant and News Writer at Channel 5 News in NYC, DiDio contacted Kathy and Lee Lutz who agreed to let the then Metromedia (now Fox News) news outlet have exclusive access to film a seance in the house. The seance was organized by Connecticut based paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens invited a number of other psychics to the seance including representatives from Duke University's School of Parapsychology. DiDio served as a producer for the evening's events and assisted reporter Marvin Scott in his reporting of the seance, which was televised on the Channel 5 10 O'Clock News broadcast. She later also accompanied well-known paranormal investigator Hans Holzer into the house to document a follow-up seance he did using trance medium Ethel Myers-Johnson. The events surrounding the alleged haunting at 112 Ocean Ave, Amityville, NY served as the basis for a book "The Amityville Horror" by Jay Anson and several movies. The topic remains one of intense interest to this day. DiDio has been interviewed frequently on the subject, but she herself has never published any articles or reports on "The Amityville Horror." DiDio believes that something extraordinary did happen to the Lutzes to cause them to flee 112 Ocean Ave, Amityville after only 30 days.

A true story! After that, she went on to her career as a Microsoft booster, which was crowned by pretending the SCO case had merit. Seven years after signing the SCO NDA and claiming the now failed copyright extortion was on solid ground, it seems she may rise from the discredited and promote again. A happy Halloween, indeed.

Joab from IDG has meanwhile passed along this "Special Report" about Microsoft. It is one heck of a puff piece from ABC News (also corporate press). Does the site disclosure the fact that Bill Gates has just paid it millions of dollars (see last month's news [1, 2)? Of course not.

One must also remember the connection between ABC and The Walt Disney Company, which is in turn connected to Apple (corporate press is typically like that). We must not take our eyes off Apple, either. This post which is titled "The Shark" was sent by a reader yesterday to remind us that Apple is no better than Microsoft and although the post is slightly old by now, it does raise a key point in a timely fashion (because Apple has begun attacking "openness" [1, 2], where its meaning is almost analogous to that of freedom):

Apple has jumped the shark.

Yes, I’m willing to say it—and yes, now, when Apple is poised to revolutionize computing again, making everything touchable, mobile, and user-unservicable. I imagine, Gruber’s going to mock me, and big Steve is going to order my phone remotely bricked. I don’t care, because I get the distinctive evil vibe that I remember all-too-well from before. Back in the early days. Back before Microsoft destroyed the software business.

This pointer was sent to us by someone who bought a computer from Apple and regretted it later because OS X went the wrong way.

Android/Linux are the rising stars at the moment, especially in this ever-growing space. Did Apple and/or Microsoft contribute to the latest lawsuit from Gemalto [1, 2]? Both Apple and Microsoft have already sued using software patents directly. It's all they have left, but that's a subject we'll reserve for another post. Apple is the company which is named after a fruit (not to be confused with the United Fruit Company even though its digital impact may one day become similar), but it does not make it any softer than Micro-Soft.

Bertha Worms
By Bertha Worms (1868–1937)


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