Et tu, Google?
I had grown used to Microsoft reflexively competing with whatever led the tech headlines that month, whether it was Zune coming out to combat iPod, Surface and Zune Phone to combat iPhone, multiple attempts to combat Google, and so forth.
Part of this is simply having a shotgun approach, which is a cheap way to diversify your business. After reading The Road Ahead, I got the distinct impression, based on Gates’ appraisal of Wang, that his greatest fear for Microsoft was to stay stuck in one product line and be made obsolete by the next big thing, which partially explains the shotgun strategy and even the trend-jumping strategy. Still, it comes off as desperate for Microsoft to respond in kind to each new product category that makes news, like they are trying to prove their relevance. Secure companies which really do innovate don’t need to imitate and they don’t need to try so hard to prove their relevance.
Google, too, always had a shotgun approach by design, but seeing this makes me worry that Google is following Microsoft into the hole of mimicking whatever the big news is at the time. I don’t think that road pays off. It’s the exact opposite of what Google started off doing–improving a boring and forgotten part of the internet ecosystem–and it’s the exact opposite of Apple’s strategy. (If Microsoft and Google are shotguns, Apple is a sniper rifle carefully picking off market opportunities no one else really sees that well.)