Microsoft's product and marketing evolution over the years has shown progressive development. Founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975, Microsoft has become the world's most successful software company (Keller, 2016, p. 94). During the '80s, the Disk Operating System (DOS) was created for IBM computers. This kind of computer operating system allows a user to type commands or simple instructions. There is also the ability to browse files on a hard drive and manage them. Within the next ten years, Microsoft began to make its name known throughout the public. The company was becoming a hit with businesses. Microsoft Office was released in 1986 (Keller, 2016, p. 94). This is a suite of productivity software that we still very much use in the present. It contains a word processor, spreadsheet creator, presentation maker, and more. These are all programs that every business utilizes on a day-to-day basis. Microsoft made it their goal to help empower companies and consumers alike.
Microsoft invested millions of dollars in marketing. They placed ads in well-known magazines and received endorsements from the industry's top computer magazines (Keller, 2016, p. 94). They did a great job utilizing different marketing channels. They used paid advertisements in magazines. They even used owned marketing tactics by pairing its browser with the Microsoft Office suite of programs. Businesses were already using the Microsoft Office suite, so being exposed to a web browser also created by Microsoft boosted exposure to the public and essentially marketed itself, creating an 18 percent increase in market users (Keller, 2016, p. 94). By partnering with AOL, Microsoft was able to take in five million consumers very quickly. The other significant investment was keeping the utilization of Internet Explorer free to consumers. This crippled Netscape's market, their competitor.
Over time, Microsoft continued to utilize other market segments to promote or advertise its other goods and services. By 2007, the Windows Vista operating system launched, which provided many improvements over its predecessors Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Releasing the Xbox in 2001 widened their consumer base even more incredible, taking in the gaming market base of one to two billion consumers. This meant that Microsoft was capturing their consumers' interest on TV, the internet, and video gaming markets. "Today, Microsoft offers a wide range of software, mobile, and home entertainment products" (Keller, 2016, p. 94).
Microsoft has had its downfalls, however. During the release of Windows Vista, the operating system came with many bugs and kinks that just were too much of an inconvenience to consumers and businesses. Their competitor Apple was aggressively advertising their new Mac computer. Apple made it look like the safer option for consumers claiming that PC'sPCs were virus prone and whatnot. With advanced communication technology and social media, Microsoft can reach consumers quickly and efficiently via social media and mobile marketing.
Microsoft can send targeted ads, coupons, and information to any customer or business with ease. With many consumers and businesses valuing communication, this keeps Microsoft at the top of the market. With the expansion into search engines such as Bing and smartphones, there are unlimited connections to the consumer market. Smartphones now have access to all of Microsoft's applications and programs, so the ability to utilize them anywhere is groundbreaking. Launching its Bing search engine to compete with Google is also a large step in the search engine war. With a reward point system, consumers can gain rewards by merely conducting searches on Bing and claim points for gift cards or other prizes. Microsoft has even integrated their new Edge Browser and Microsoft Rewards program into its new Xbox gaming systems. Again, targeting a more extensive consumer base of over 2 billion users and gamers. These are supreme areas of growth for Microsoft.
So how is Microsoft doing in the external environment? Microsoft is involved in a way with politics. According to Davalos (2020), "Microsoft reported that more than 200 organizations directly or indirectly tied to the US election and political organizations in Europe were affected by a Russian-operated group, called Strontium, including U.S.-based consultants serving Republicans and Democrats. According to Microsoft, the same group was also identified in the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as being responsible for the attacks on the Democratic presidential campaign in 2016. (Strontium is also known as APT28 or Fancy Bear)" (p., 1). It does not look like politics are affecting the company. It seems as if the company was recognized for its efforts in reporting the suspicious foreign affairs of groups trying to thwart the political campaigning for the 2020 election.
According to Nusca (2020), "Computing is becoming embedded in a world of people, places, things. There is increasing digitization, at a broad scale, in the economy" (p. 1). We live in the age of technology, where most of the things we do are done using some program or application. More business processes are being automated or carried out by programs with instructions. Everything can be accessed and managed from a computer, tablet, or smartphone. This is affecting the socio-cultural environment, as well. E-commerce and retail are being personalized and tailored to the likes of the consumer. Cookies left behind while web browsing gives retailers like Amazon or eBay what to suggest as your next potential purchase. Medical outcomes are becoming easier to get. Now hospitals like South Georgia Medical Center has an application consumer can download and receive lab results. Technology like that which Microsoft develops has made it easier to schedule an appointment to see the doctor or plan trips to Hawaii.
Microsoft has significant strength, and it is that its name is on most products and services we use daily. Most Americans utilize Windows operating systems on their computers. One of the biggest competitors in the gaming industry is the Xbox game console. 2.5 billion gamers in the world, and a great majority of them are playing on an Xbox. Microsoft also has a weakness. That weakness is the smartphone. Microsoft has tried to manufacture smartphones that just become flops. They do not sell well. They come with numerous bugs and glitches. Many consumers will not buy a Microsoft smartphone. Their newest smartphone comes with a foldable double screen form factor. It has many bugs, according to many technology reporters and editors. Smartphones are just a market. Microsoft cannot seem to prevail. They have aggressive competition from other manufacturers such as Google and Apple. They dominate the smartphone battlefield as they continue to fight for smartphone supremacy. Google has Android, and Apple has its iOS devices. Both forms of devices, however, can run Microsoft applications like the Microsoft Office suite of apps.
This is an excellent opportunity for Microsoft to keep its name and representation in some form or another on the smartphone and the consumer's hands. With the problem where the company cannot strive in the smartphone wars, they could switch their focus to just hardware. It honestly is mostly the software that they cannot get right. If Microsoft can create breathtaking smartphones and run complete Android operating systems, they would have a giant foot on the battlefield. Android is open-source software and programming that can be shaped and formed to fit the architect's role. I think this could be how Microsoft stays in the smartphone race. They need to focus on hardware and not the software on the smartphone.
According to Raphael (2020), "All considered, the Duo seems designed primarily for two things: actual productivity-oriented work -- and work that specifically revolves around the Microsoft ecosystem of apps and services. It could be a full-on phone replacement, or it could be a device you use in tandem with a more typical phone alongside it. However, it almost certainly is not something that's meant to compete directly with, say, a Samsung Galaxy Fold phone. Or even a Galaxy S flagship. Heck, you could argue that it is less of a phone and more of a versatile tablet that happens to make calls" (p. 1). As you can tell from these statements, Microsoft excels in the hardware department of the smartphone market. Their weakness is mostly in the software under the shell. Lack of near field communication software/hardware is a big deal since most smartphones already come with that functionality.
If they are interested in improving on the Surface Duo, and if they want to market it as a smartphone, they need to advertise it as a productivity-focused smartphone. If they market the Surface Duo like the way Blackberry marketed their phones, it could prove to be a win for Microsoft. Blackberry phones were in the palms of every businessman and businesswoman during its days in the spotlight. It marketed itself so well for a business that if a consumer had one, it would be presumed that they were significant in their organization. This is how Microsoft should market their new smartphones. They can use strong relationship marketing. They are already in deep with big-name industries and organizations. Give the Surface Duo a purpose and then give those businesses a purpose to purchase the Surface Duo smartphone. Design the smartphone for the businessman. Combine this marketing strategy with proper communication and advertisements. I do not see why the Surface Duo cannot hold Microsoft in the smartphone war. This can be a significant step in the right direction for Microsoft.
Keller, PKK. L. (2016). Marketing Management, VitalSource for Columbia Southern University. [VitalSource Bookshelf]. Retrieved from https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781323591512/
Davalos, J., & Sebenius, A. (2020). Microsoft Detects Foreign Cyber-Attacks Targeting US Elections. Bloomberg.Com, N.PAG.
Nusca, A. (2020). The Conversation SATYA NADELLA. Fortune, 181(3), 10–13.
Raphael, J. R. (2020). Microsoft's Surface Duo is a big-picture product: Microsoft's first Android phone could be hugely significant, but many people are bound to write it off quickly and miss the point. Computerworld (Online Only), 1.