As one might expect, Microsoft does view Apple as one of its biggest competitors, and in the consumer device market Apple has gained serious momentum. Microsoft’s big picture strategy to compete has been a little bit broken and very reactive over the past years. Their response to the iPod was the “Me Too” release of the Zune, which tanked terribly. Windows smartphones have been around for a long time, but never really presented serious competition to the iPhone.
The release of Windows 8 has changed things somewhat. The verdict is a long way from being back on whether Windows 8 smartphones and tablets can take market share from this segment currently dominated by Apple and Android.
Microsoft’s vision for competing at this level really is built on the unified platform of Windows 8, along with a revised strategy that is currently code-named “Blue”. The Blue Strategy is relatively simple, and involves more frequent features set updates to Windows, Windows Phone, Office, and Xbox Software. These updates will now be coordinated across all platforms, since the Windows 8 OS has been unified across all of their devices. This presents a strategy similar to that of Apple where IOS runs on all of their devices, and an improvement to IOS applies the new feature set across all their devices.
Will this new strategy work? It certainly is not a given. Even though Microsoft’s Windows 8 release is stable, sales are already slumping. In addition, many analysts suggest that Microsoft’s will have to adapt further and take on a model where the software licensing is very low cost and they earn their money by packaging it with hardware and hosted cloud services. The “Blue” strategy is certainly a step in the right direction, but we will have to see how things play out in the marketplace.