No dissing the HoloLens

Microsoft Windows 10

I know. I want to make fun of them, too.

They’re basically wearing those wrap-around old people sunglasses while doing a Doug Henning impression. THE WOULD OF ILLUSION, THANK YOU. There was a lot of snark on Twitter today regarding Microsoft’s announcement, but it’s unwarranted. Not because HoloLens is the product we all need, but because it’s a step. We’re still in the birthing suite for what will be awesome tech our great grandkids use.

You want to have private time on a Star Trek holodeck, right? Me too. That means we just endure and respect Glass, HoloLens and all of the steps that lie between here and there.

In other words, you don’t get this…


…without this:



Microsoft’s SPOT smart watch

There’s a rumor that Microsoft is developing a new smart watch. Samsung and Apple are also supposedly working on similar devices. Microsoft is the only one with real experience in this area, as it shipped, sold and supported a smart watch for four years.

The company’s SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology) tech was used in watches from Fossil, Suunto, Tissot and Swatch. Tissot’s high-end model cost $800, and the SPOT service cost $59 annually. The watches were discontinued in 2008, and Microsoft continued to provide data to existing devices until January, 2012.

[Via @rolphus]

No Office for iPad: Does it matter anymore?


ZDNet suggests that Microsoft won’t release Office for the iPad until 2014. Does it even matter at this point?

The enterprise is demonstrating that it can get along just fine without Office on iOS. Good Technology’s quarterly Device Activations Report (PDF), for example, found that iOS garnered nearly 77 percent of all activations in the enterprise, up from 71 percent last year. Also, fantastic apps like Readdle’s Documents do just about anything a mobile Office user could want. Now MS hands developers another year to improve their apps and IT departments another year to get comfortable with the iPad.

Jonny Evans at Computer World agrees, saying:

“Were the company to introduce good versions of Office for the plethora of other devices, it would create new revenue, create good feeling, and, if the software’s liked, stimulate interest in its other products.

However, by making its customers wait until some indeterminate point next year, Microsoft looks like it isn’t watching what’s happening, isn’t interested in serving the needs of its customers, and looks out of touch. These steps encourage disinterest in its products. These actions drive its customers — including its precious enterprise customers — to look elsewhere.

By adopting this path, Microsoft is signing its own death warrant.”

I felt a little late in coming to this conclusion after reading this post from Patrick Rhone, regarding a conversation he had with his wife about a year ago:

“…the iPhone came. There was no Office. People got things done. Then the iPad came. There was no Office. People got things done. Android came. People got things done. All of those things that they, just a couple of years ago, were convinced they needed Office to do. They got them done without it. And thus, the truth was revealed.

Microsoft’s biggest miss was allowing the world to finally see the truth behind the big lie — they were not needed to get real work done. Or anything done, really.”

So no rush, Microsoft. We’re fine at this point.

Microsoft’s confusing marketing of the Surface


Boy Genius Report:

“The biggest reason this ad campaign is so dumbfounding, however, is that Microsoft is not some relatively small company like Nokia or BlackBerry  that has limited resources to devote to high-quality marketing campaigns. It is, in fact, still one of the world’s most valuable tech companies with a market cap well north of $200 billion. If it can’t create a good marketing campaign for what’s supposed to be a crucially important product, then you really have to question whether the company has its head on straight. “

As I said in February, if you were a business owner looking for tablets for your employees, would this make you want to buy Microsoft Surface Pros? I suspect it doesn’t. While dancing might be effective for the consumer ad, it’s confusing for a spot meant for business professionals looking to spend IT dollars in an extremely competitive market.

Forcing a win or loss where there isn’t one

Microsoft has published a list of the most popular search terms that users entered into Bing in 2012. Apple’s mobile products dominated the tech category, with the iPhone 5, iPad, iPad 3, iPod touch and iPhone 4S in the first, second, fifth, sixth and ninth spots respectively. That’s good news for Apple, but not necessarily a death knell for Microsoft.

In some corners of the Apple web, there’s a gleeful schadenfreude in noting that data illustrating Apple’s popularity came from Microsoft’s search engine. GeekWire even imagines a fanfic letter that a vindictive Tim Cook might forward to Steve Ballmer, thanking his developers for producing such a fine search engine.

Don’t do that. It makes Apple fans look like petty jerks. Plus, you’re forcing a win and a loss (“Apple beats Microsoft!”) where there isn’t one. I saw something similar yesterday regarding Black Friday sales of Apple products and Microsoft products.

The story here is “Apple’s mobile products were popular search terms on Bing in 2012.” That’s it.

Apple vs. Microsoft Black Friday retail numbers

AppleInsider shares Piper Jaffray’s  data on the performance of Apple retail stores vs. Microsoft retail stores on Black Friday. AppleInsider uses the headline “Apple trounces Microsoft in Black Friday retail traffic, purchases” and notes that “A comparison of Apple and Microsoft retail stores on Black Friday found that nearly 5 times as many items were purchased per hour at the Apple Store.” That’s impressive until you look at Piper Jaffray’s (PJ) data.

We can’t look at the data directly, unfortunately, as it’s in an unpublished client memo from PJ. However, the information AppleInsider shares makes me question its validity. AI notes that “Gene Munster and his team at Piper Jaffray conducted 8 hours of observations at Apple retail stores in Minneapolis last Friday.” Also, “In comparison, two hours spent outside a Microsoft Store” produced data of its own. There are a few red flags here.

  1. First, PJ’s team spent eight hours observing Apple retail stores but only two hours outside a Microsoft Store. How can you compare eight hours of data collection to two hours?
  2. Why observe multiple Apple Stores but only one Microsoft Store?
  3. Did the same group of observers gather data at all locations? If so, then they reached each store at a different time of day. Which store(s) was visited during peak shopping time, and which at a lunchtime lul or end-of-day slowdown?

How was data gathered? Looking at shopper’s bags, interviewing customers, or what? Also, AI notes that the observers were outside the Microsoft Store, but did not say where they were positioned at the Apple Stores.

The study goes on. AI notes, “Time spent at the Apple Store found that an average of 17.2 items were purchased per hour. In comparison, two hours spent outside a Microsoft Store found that 3.5 items were purchased per hour — and none of those were of the new Surface tablet. In fact, all but two of the purchases from the Microsoft store were games for its Xbox game console.”

Again, how can you compare an average number of purchases made per hour across locations if none of these variables are controlled for? Same time of day, same amount of time, same observation method, same observers, duration of observation, same data collection method. Also, was inter-observer agreement employed as a safeguard against human error? Were flagship stores visited or shopping mall locations? The former is certainly surrounded by fewer distractions than the latter.

As for the note that no customers purchased a Surface, what if sales picked up in the unobserved third hour? Or fourth? Fifth?

Finally, the study compares this year’s data to last year’s. Unless this comparison is of the same retail locations recorded at the same time of day, it’s to be questioned.

As an Apple fan, I’d like to chalk this up as a win for the home team. Unfortunately, I cannot.

Who is Ballmer having dinner with?

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer discussed the Surface’s sales debut with The Wall Street Journal, saying, “Numerically there’s not really much that’s interesting to report.” But that’s not why this article is compelling. At one point, Ballmer shares this story with Journal writer Shira Ovide:

“I was at a dinner in San Francisco last week, and I brought out this beautiful, very thin [touch-screen] laptop, and they said, ‘Wow, I never thought touch could be valuable and important in a laptop.'”

Who talks like that? “I never thought touch could be valuable and important in a laptop.” Answer: nobody.

Ballmer is seriously losing his mind

In a recent interview with CNBC, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had this to say:

“I don’t think anybody has done a product that is the product that I see customers wanting. You can go through the products from all those guys … and none of them has a product that you can really use. Not Apple. Not Google. Not Amazon. Nobody has a product that lets you work and play that can be your tablet and your PC. Not at any price point.”

Really? Neither Apple or Google have produced a tablet that people want? The iPad is not “a product that lets you work and play [and] that can be your tablet and your PC.”

If he genuinely believes these statements, he has gone insane.