Don’t sell your platform by paying for it

Microsoft’s techy culture and lackluster market strategy is a reflection of the fact that it was founded by a nerd who couldn’t dress himself. Apple on the other hand was built into what it is today by a sales expert who knew how to dress and impress.

Please note that I say the above with as much love as possible. I’m also a severe nerd and my wardrobe consists mostly of 100% preshrunk cotton tshirts with pictures of pixelated game characters and logos from various tech conferences. And a few pairs of slightly ripped non-skinny jeans. I also have a beanie with a bonbon on it, which is about as wild as I get.

No surprise then that Microsoft and Apple have completely opposite approaches to selling phones: Apple creates a product that everyone wants and then lets them buy it, treating early adopters as kings unless they have anything negative to say at which point they are dead to them; while Microsoft builds something neat and then tries to manufacture demand by buying endorsements and treating early adopters like unwanted mute step kids / beta testers.

Windows Phone vs iPhone has so far been a replay of the Silverlight vs Flash war.

It wasn’t a very long war:

Back in the day when Flash was at its peak, digital agencies like built rich complex flash websites and intros for their clients. Big clients who, after a few weeks, had their sites redesigned again (by people like me) to not use as much flash because they realized the user experience wasn’t all that great (remember 56k?).

But they were excited in the beginning! The clients thought they wanted the cool flashy stuff! This was completely opposite of what happened with Silverlight. It never had sizzle so Microsoft “helped” some big websites use Silverlight, but nobody wanted it to begin with, let alone afterward. So the platform didn’t go anywhere.

The Silverlight and Windows Phone platforms weren’t sold to the customers using marketing and sales techniques. They were given away at a loss whether they wanted it or not.

Technologically Silverlight was awesome — its integration with IIS Smooth Streaming to serve live multi-bitrate videos was amazingly elegant and simple. It could have gone toe to toe with Flash. And its still around today on Windows Phones and a few websites like Microsoft’s Channel 9 (which has great video tutorials for programmers btw.) But unlike Flash, Silverlight never took off. And nobody asked for it once the money was gone.

I think this is a key reason why certain extremely popular apps on WP7 have poor ratings.

You just can’t outsource love and care.

Unless we are talking about an old folks home, or a visiting nurse..

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