A Microsoft Partner Is Just Someone They Haven't Gotten Around To Killing Yet

M1911A1 Pistol, image courtesy M62
M1911A1 Pistol, image courtesy M62

Back in 2003 Andrew Grygus wrote:

Microsoft’s “development partners” are going through the same three stages we have seen in other markets Microsoft has invaded: denial, desperation, bankruptcy. They’ll all get a brief mention on http://www.fu??ed company.com (you need to fill in those ??s yourself).

Microsoft uses contracts, not guns, but it doesn’t matter how you kill a company. People loose jobs. A shock wave is sent through the related industries. In my opinion Microsoft’s newest partner, Nokia, seems likely to follow other Microsoft partners into oblvion.

And Suicide Is Painless

Most people will recognize that line from the MASH Theme song. Suicide is painless for corporations. Corporations don’t feel. Their employees on the other hand do feel, and do suffer.

Corporations are effectively Sociopaths. Your immediate manager probably cares about you. His manager probably doesn’t. There’s no connection.

The larger the company, the worse the actions. Small companies allow everyone to maintain a connection. Large companies operate in a disconnected manner. The man or woman in the corner office has little of no connection with most of the employees.

So Elop made his choice to use Windows Phone 7, and reports are that over a thousand Nokia employees walked out in protest. Does Elop care? Not one bit. In fact he probably thinks that this is a great thing. He’s looking to reduce staff, and if his staff decides to leave, that just makes it easier for him. Of course it damages Nokia. Just like his actions damaged Macromedia. Some of the media in Finland has caught on too, and is very critical.

What’s The Message?

Remember the gun? By stating that Nokia is now the main partner for Windows Phone 7, Microsoft is pointing a gun at Dell, HTC, LG, and Samsung. Dell, HTC, LG, and Samsung aren’t stupid. While there may be some Windows Phone 7 devices in development that are too late to stop, we aren’t likely to see more WP7 devices from these companies, with the possible exception of Dell. Dell has decided to move the company to WP7, and as Daniel at Roughly Drafted pointed out before the Nokia deal, the move was a gamble.

At which point I’d better explain what I’m seeing. I used to do technology evaluations for the company I worked for. Management paid a lot of attention to my evaluations, even if they didn’t always follow them. Often there were things in play that I didn’t know about, and couldn’t be told about. We had jokes about non-disclosure agreements…

I’ve never worked for a Mobile Phone manufacturer, so I wouldn’t know the industry specific questions that would be asked. But there are certain questions that aren’t industry specific.

You won’t give anyone else a better deal, will you?

I can guarantee that Dell, HTC, LG, and Samsung all asked that question, and that they wouldn’t have produced WP7 phones without being promised that no one else would get a better deal. So either their sales representative lied to them, or Microsoft changed the rules leaving the sales representative with egg on his or her face. Because we all know the answer to the next question.

Can we get an exclusive?

Hey, we’re Microsoft. We don’t give exclusives. Except to Nokia. After we’ve told everyone that we don’t give exclusives.

I think you can see where this is going. Yes, Microsoft now has Nokia producing WP7 phones. But I’ll bet that the other WP7 manufacturers will dump Microsoft as quickly as they can. Because there’s no way that they signed on to produce WP7 phones under this set of circumstances.

Reputation Is A Scarce Good

Mike Masnick’s ‘Reputation is a Scarce Good’ line is going to hit Microsoft in places other than smart phones. Just think – you’re a Microsoft Windows licensee. And you see what Microsoft just did to Dell, another Microsoft Windows licensee. Is Microsoft’s move to Nokia going to impress you with it’s understanding of realpolitik, or is it going to make decide to count your fingers after shaking hands with Ballmer?

You’re going to count your fingers. Then you’re going to be looking at Hewlett Packard, who has announced plans for WebOS powered phones, tablets, and COMPUTERS. You know that all HP is doing, is imitating Apple. So why shouldn’t you do the same?

Because Android isn’t the answer. Android has problems which you can’t fix, because you can’t be sure that any fixes that you contribute will be used. But there’s several kernels available which can and do run on damned near any CPU. That’s what HP, Google, and Apple did. Build an OS using someone else’s kernel.

So why don’t you do it? Time. Microsoft has messed you up big time, so your only option is Android, or maybe Ubuntu for tablets.

Screwing Your Employees Is Bad Policy

And I’m not talking about Nokia. Assume you’re in sales, and you work for Microsoft. You’ve just seen the sales staff in the Windows Phone division get kicked in the teeth. Seriously. How can they sell anything? Management has just ruined the market for Windows Phone to any customer except Nokia.

And if they’d do it to the sales staff in Windows Phone, they’ll do it to you.

While sales is most directly effected (just think of the deals that just went south a Ludicrous Speed after the announcement was made), marketing also just got a kick in the chops. Nokia will be doing all the marketing now. Bye bye!

The repercussions will be felt throughout Microsoft. Mini-Microsoft hasn’t responded to the deal yet – he/she/it was cautiously optimistic about Windows Phone 7 in the last post. But 93% satisfaction translates to 93% Samsung Focus? Let’s assume that Mini knows what it’s talking about, and the Samsung Focus really is the best WP7 device. Problem is Microsoft just killed it.

What it’s going to look like to most Microsoft employees is that Management panicked. I’ll bet that there’s a lot of resumes getting dusted off this weekend, and not just in the division that handles WP7. When Management makes short term decisions like this, it’s a good time to get ready to bail out.

I understand what Microsoft Management was trying to do. But they so totally blew it. Short term thinking can kill your company. Totally kill it.

But it might be good in the long run. This might be just what board needs to give them the ammunition to dump Ballmer. So far he’s been protected, because he’s Bill’s school buddy. This foul up however may make Bill take another look. Maybe.


Wayne Borean

Sunday February 13, 2011


5 thoughts on “A Microsoft Partner Is Just Someone They Haven't Gotten Around To Killing Yet

  1. not to be picky, but is there some reason to use these freakishly large images on the blog, these things come in on my feed reader and the text then doesnt wrap correctly. please make these reasonably smaller.

    thanks 🙂

  2. There is a big problem when employees leave on their own account – the ones who leave are the ones who have options. You have saved in layoffs, but you are stuck with the people who have problems getting hired elsewhere.

    1. I’ve been there, and seen it happen. Whenever a company heads the layoff route, it’s an admission of failure, and a damned good indication that the company isn’t one you want to do business with.

      As to the people who stay behind, they aren’t necessarily the worst people. In fact they are often the best people. I was working sales at one place, and it’s possible we would have had layoffs in sales if a couple of people hadn’t have decided to leave on their own, halving our sales department. We had two bad months while those of us who were left did a lot of work researching the deals which were left hanging, and then we managed to increase sales dramatically by working smarter. We were damned proud of what we did.

      A lot depends on hiring. If management delivers the wrong staff, you have problems. It’s not necessarily that the people are bad, sometimes they just don’t fit in.


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