Monday, December 20, 2004

I think Robert Scoble has this one wrong

Yeah, the blog about the making of King King is cool.

But Microsoft will need a lot more than good marketing to pull of a stunt like finishing in front of the iPod.

Here is what I think the problems are (it comes basically down to "Make a better product"):
  • Windows Media is evil. It is from Microsoft and it has DRM. It might have a better sound quality than MP3. But someday, somebody can take away my music. While this may or may not be true, people still think this. You will need to convince people, that they can hear the music they bought until the earth crumbles. In this area, a blog might help. Letting people know, what really is inside WMA, might help. But it will not help you to win this. You will still come in second. You will need to make the message, that there is no way, that they ever loose their music. Make them a promise, that they can download their music again, if they loose their computer. Make it as easy as possible. Just enter your account, and you re-download your music library. No need for you to keep a backup. We can do this all for you. No problem, no extra charge. People will understand that.
  • Windows Media is insecure. How many exploits are there with WMV? You fix them, right, but people remember not to click on anything ending in .wmv, right?
  • You don't have a one stop solution. I love iTunes. I will buy a an iPod. I love the iPod. I will buy music in the iTMS. I love the iTMS, I will buy an iPod. Simple. I think you don't need to write this down. You already know this.
  • But with Windows Media, I have TOO MUCH CHOICE. Yes, by giving the people to many choices, from junk to high-end, you confuse the people. Just give them one player: The only one you need. The one that does everything you need. Not more, not less.
  • No other player is as cool as the iPod. Sorry. No other music software is as much fun to use as iTunes. Sorry. And iTMS is the best store. Sorry. If you want to beat the iPod, be better. Be better in each point. Thats what Apple did. What they made, was better than what was available. You can do the same. It has only become harder, to be better. But there is still margin to be better.
  • Make a audio only software. Seriously. You make fun of Steve Jobs kids not wanting to watch movies in the car, BUT FOCUS! Make ONE solution for music and ANOTHER for video. Even if it is the same Windows player underneath. But make one software ONLY FOR AUDIO. With the easiest UI for audio. And no gimmick features. Maybe this software is similar to your video software, but still it has only audio features. And get these features right.
  • By trying to please everybody, Microsoft pleases nobody. The DRM scares away customers, yet doesn't satisfy the major labels. DRM will never satisfy them, because it doesn't work. It's a placebo. By trying to get many player manufacturers on board, you dilute the message. "What can I do with this? Oh, everything. Sorry, I only need a iPod." FOCUS. Music on my computer. Music on the go. My music. No gimmicks, just music.
It is not in with a marketing war, that you will win this. It is and always will be a product war.
  • Good software player
  • Good hardware player
  • Good music store
Once you have good products, people will trust you. Once you have these, you can let other gimmicks follow, like Apple does with its AirTunes. Build it one by one. Don't try to reach all goals at once.

A blog might change which player Robert Scoble wants. It might change which player most Microsoft employees want. It might change which player some other people want. But it will be impossible to change what most people want, only with a blog and a worse product.

Make good products and the customers will come.

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