Breaking up Microsoft

In my previous post, Microsoft’s new logo: The hidden mesage, I mentioned what I called Microsoft’s hidden message in the new logo where I noted that I believe they are trying to send out a message that they are changing. There’s no doubt that that is the case given Steve Ballmer’s recent letter. As most of you will agree Microsoft is now trying to focus more on reaching out to consumers in addition to being a business focused company and one of the things I talked about in my previous post about their logo change is that they are trying to change the perception about them being so.

The new logo is a step in the right direction. However I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately and I feel that this step may not be as effective as it is intended due to the company name still being ‘Microsoft’. Unfortunate as it is, despite existing Microsoft products being widely used by consumers – mainly windows PC – they left a gap now mostly filled by Apple and they’re trying to get back into this gap themselves again now. I believe that this ‘gap’ has now resulted in Apple being now viewed as the ‘consumer’ company while Microsoft has become the ‘business’ company with ‘some’ consumer centric products rather than a consumer focused company like what Apple now is.

For Microsoft to be fully successful as a consumer company I think they need to detach themselves from the perception of their current image/brand. The changes they are making now are great in showing that the company is changing but to me it’s still a change that the ‘old’ company is making so there are still strong links to who Microsoft was before. I sometimes view this as KFC coming out and saying that they now make beef burgers. Now they may be the best burgers you ever taste but KFC is still a ‘chicken’ restaurant so why would you care about their beef burgers?

The same goes for Microsoft. People – majority of consumers – see them as a ‘business’ company so why would they really care about their ‘consumer’ products when they can go to Apple which fulfils all their consumer needs. Hence all the changes Microsoft is making to change their image. A logo change along with the products can help with that but is it enough? – people still know that they are ‘Microsoft’ despite the new wrapping.

This is where I think Microsoft splitting/breaking-up would make a lot of sense as that would change the public perception of the company as you may then have a ‘Microsoft Business Company’ and a Microsoft Consumer Company. It is true that you can have those as separate divisions in the same company but that still leaves the big picture as the parent Microsoft. By splitting up I believe the perception can be changed as individual consumers can expect different things depending on who they are dealing with and same with business consumers. I feel that the same also applies for Apple, apple has now become so consumer centric that I think it’s not logical for them to try to target business products …etc. You just don’t expect that from them anymore. This is Microsoft issue on the reverse side so whilst all the recent changes are in the right direction they may not be sufficient in getting consumers to believe in Microsoft simply because they will never perceive the products from a business focused company as consumer targeted.

This is why I think Microsoft should break-up with itself and split into two separate companies. What do you think?