Posted on Friday 3rd of November 2006 at 00:26 in Software

Microsoft will struggle with branding

It occurred to me recently while reading about the Zune that the major problem with the product is the brand. Even the most absurd things are bought from fashionable manufacturers (iPod Shuffle?) but Microsoft are suffering because they're not cool.

"Cool" is an expression impossible to quantify so I'm unable to say Microsoft are 74% less cool than Apple or anything along those lines, but the background feelings are there - they're just not cool. True enough the Xbox and Xbox360 are fairly cool pieces of kit in their own right but MS are still recognised as the brand behind Windows, Office and many other overpriced commercial applications whereas Nintendo are a company recognised for the SNES, the Gamecube, the N64 - all excellent gaming consoles with a strong community.

What can Microsoft Do?
To be fair there probably isn't a lot they can do to become "cool" again. Apple manage it by producing original designs for their Macs (Mac Mini is a good example). Sony are "cool" purely because they back the world dominating PS2 - which has helped them throw off the image of being a VCR manufacturer. Most brands have a solid identity which is rarely challenged (when was the last time Dell attempted a new image?) but Microsoft continue to branch out and it always comes back to Windows and money hungry business models.

this means producing the world's most controversial game imaginable "3D Serial Killer" or something that will have an 18+ sticker on it safe in the knowledge every 13 year old will get a copy one way or another

MS train simulator But Microsoft ARE Fun
Lest we forget MS were behind the excellent (albeit horrifically branded) "Microsoft Combat Flight Sim" series of games which were (in my opinion) among the best combat flight games ever made. This was a cool game with an un-cool name. However, very few would classify Flight Simulator, Train Simulator, Hot Air Balloon Simulator (etc) as cool, seeing as they have this whole geeky, anorak image surrounding them - however well made and fun they could be.

What Can Save Them?
In my opinion the only thing to help generate a new image for Microsoft would be something entirely different. Something radical. Something controversial. Something that makes the press cry and mothers around the world terrified, something like Grand Theft Auto. Microsoft need a new image if they're to succeed in branching out towards today's youth with products like the Zune and Xbox360, they need something that makes them unavoidable. Typically (and recently) this means producing the world's most controversial game imaginable "3D Serial Killer" or something that will have an 18+ sticker on it safe in the knowledge every 13 year old will get a copy one way or another. Something that will bring extensive press attention towards the game and with it, make every youth in the world want to play it. It's simple.

Will MS Ever Go For That?


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Who is Seopher?

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