If you lose the consumer, you lose the enterprise

by Volker Weber

Steve Ballmer:

"Getting people hooked on using Office in a collaborative mode at home is super-important to getting them to use it that way at work," he said. "If you lose the consumer, you lose the enterprise."

IBM has lost this fight long ago, with Notes and with Smartsuite, against Outlook and Office. I am not too optimistic that they can win it with Symphony but they certainly should keep trying. I think that Google is making inroads with GMail but not so much with Docs & Spreadsheets.


It is the difference between a bottom up and a top down approach. Microsoft was and still is successfull in doing it the first way. They always were. Or why do you think installing word, excel and powerpoint on any PC you had without having a license key was so easy for such a long time.

Lotus and later on IBM have no record for doing it this way. And i think that might be the basic reason why IBM simply does not get it.

Thomas Schulte, 2009-03-24 10:26

Steve Mills never made a secret of what he thinks of IBM and the consumer market.
"For the consumer, no. We have made it clear in the market that our orientation is not toward [the consumer]. It is not that we won’t help others serve the consumer, we are happy to do that, but we don’t want to be consumer facing. That is not our forte."

Source: Information Age (2008)

And Symphony repeats many of the mistakes of Open Office. It will be interesting what will happen with Symphony and/or Open Office when IBM takes over SUN (although I am more nervous about MySQL).

Henning Heinz, 2009-03-24 10:47

@Henning - what do you perceive as the mistakes of Open Office? Are you talking about the product, or the way it is marketed and distributed?

Nick Daisley, 2009-03-24 12:43

Back in 2007 I wrote

The days when you and I, IT professionals, could dictate the technology used in business purely on its technological merit, including fitness for purpose, are gone. Nowadays, everybody is an IT expert because they all have computers at home. They all run XP or Vista and they are all loaded with lots of Microsoft software.

This is truer now than it was then - the battle for IT users' hearts and minds is won in the home, not the office.

Chris Linfoot, 2009-03-24 13:26

What is true for IBM is also true for Microsoft. Consumer preference for MS is declining with services like Google, alternatives like Apple or Linux, etc. being available. I hear frequently about my user's aversions to Vista and Office 2007 for their personal computing needs. Eight months after our company conversion to Office 2007, the typical opinion is neutral ...or worse.

Good viable alternatives exist. Email is a great example. How many people actually are using Outlook Express at home? I haven’t answered a single Outlook Express question in years. MS will continue to dominate for years with inertia. I believe it to be more a matter of convenience than "hearts and minds."

Dennis Ellison, 2009-03-24 14:56

So, IBM, ironically, has won the home market because there's an IBM processor in every Nintendo Wii, MS Xbox and Sony PS3.....

Albert Buendia, 2009-03-24 16:33

It's not just at home, it's in the schools, too. There is no other productivity package in schools and universities, that market is owned by Microsoft and taught by your children's teachers. They are spitting out Office Users at an alarming rate.

Gregg Eldred, 2009-03-24 20:00

spitting out Office Users at an alarming rate

That is bad, and not because it is MS-Office -- same goes for any single product. Schools should educate.

Jan-Piet Mens, 2009-03-24 22:26

Dennis, yes, this is certainly a problem that Msft faces.

Volker Weber, 2009-03-25 00:37

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