Microsoft’s New Posturing: iOS is Boring

| Analysis

Terry Myerson, the head of Microsoft's Windows Phone group, isn't overly impressed with Apple's iOS, and even suggested it's boring. Mr. Myerson shared his thoughts on Apple's popular operating system for the iPhone and iPad during D: Dive Into Mobile on Wednesday in New York, and he did a great job of setting himself up for attacks from the Apple and Android camps.

Microsoft's defensive posturing isn't helping the companyMicrosoft's defensive posturing isn't helping the company

He said Apple doesn't seem to have a sence of urgency with iOS saying, "When iOS 5 came out and there was a fifth row of icons and not much else, you say, okay, are they running out of steam, is iOS getting boring?"

Mr. Myerson added that Google's Android OS "is kind of a mess," and that he's certain the company plans to merge Android with Chrome OS at some point.

A quick rundown of Mr. Myerson's comments shows a couple factual errors: The fifth row of icons he mentioned wasn't actually a feature in iOS 5, but instead was part of the iPhone 5 -- which runs iOS 6 -- and is there because it's the first iPhone model with a bigger screen size. iOS 5 also happened to be where Apple introduced features like Notifications, Messages, Reminders with location-based alerts, system-wide Twitter support, Wi-Fi syncing, and computer-free setup and device activation.

Google has said Android OS and Chrome OS won't merge into a single operating system, and while we only have Google's word on that, it seems the company that makes both is probably in a better position to know what's in store than an executive from a rival company.

Nit-picking details aside, Mr. Myerson's comments are typical Microsoft posturing, and unfortunately that's a skill the company's executives fail at routinely. Posturing is standard practice in the tech industry, but Microsoft doesn't get how to do it effectively:

  • Get Your Facts Straight Nothing says "I'm uninformed and ill-prepared" like screwing up the facts. Say, for example, claiming a hardware feature from a competitor's product is actually an OS feature.
  • Promote Your Product If you mention your competitor's products when you're posturing, don't forget to mention your's, too. Give your audience a little positive instead of just negative.
  • Back Up Your Claims Simply dismissing your competitor's products, just like Microsoft's Steve Ballmer did with the original iPhone, will probably come back to bite you -- just as it did when Mr. Ballmer dismissed the original iPhone. If you have data to back up your claims, use it.

Unfortunately, defensive posturing is all about emotions and perception instead of facts, and that's a problem because the message it ultimately sends is that you're worried about the competition. That worry leads to questions about what's wrong with your product and why your competition is better.

While Apple does occasionally use defensive posturing tactics, the company more often simply touts the benefits of its own products without ever mentioning competitors. If Microsoft wants to copy something from Apple, maybe that's something it should look at instead.

[Some image elements courtesy Shutterstock]

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7 Comments Leave Your Own

geoduck

You can have flashy and exciting or boring and reliable. I’ll take the latter. My iOS devices are tools. I want my tools to just work. That said I think iOS could do with a refresh. Their are a few features I’d like to see added. But overall it’s solid and just works.

jfbiii

Microsoft makes a phone?

Winski

AND, Winders 8 has had such an amazingly positive response it has forced the supply chain for Microshaft to be strained past it’s breaking point??

N O T !!!!

Bomber’s Monkeys… idiotic to the end.

Synth

If you create a revolution and still own the revolution, you can afford to be a little boring.

Meanwhile, MS is still trying to prove that they even know the revolution took place. But I guess that watching your latest mobile and desktop aspirations go up in flames is “exciting.”

i_newit

Apple has always been Microsofts R&D.  MS has never been creative.  Who remembers the last MS original idea?  I’m not saying they don’t have idea’s, just saying, who actually remembers them?

Paul Goodwin

Sure some of the novelty has worn off, but that happens when something is used, or listened to, or read, or watched so many times you know everything about it. That we know iOS that well is testament to how much it gets used. This iPad is like another appendage. But just like great old songs, their greatness isn’t gone, it’s there when you want it.

wab95

Jeff et al:

You have to give MS credit for spotting and exploiting popular momentum, in this case that of iOS needing some new features, which even Apple clients and Apple-friendly pundits are calling for, in addition to the usual suspects and chorus of critics.

At the same time, effective communication skills instructors would make the very points you just did about preparation, point and counterpoint. While this can be dismissed as a missed opportunity, more worryingly for MS, this might reflect a systemically deeper problem of poverty of thought, ideas and products. I should think, if they had robust solutions to these deficits, they would have highlighted or at least hinted at them.

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