Microsoft's New Posturing: iOS is Boring

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]