The business model adopted by Microsoft has defined its growth and overall success story. For the purpose of this article, I shall call it the Access Model (AM). The acronym should not be confused with MA, Microsoft Access; if you contemplated the association, however, your thoughts are trending alongside mine. The musings that I am putting forth concern the recently affirmed recognition by Forrester Wave™ of Microsoft as a Leader in enterprise business intelligence (BI) platforms. And, for added perspective, let’s also mention Gartner’s recognition of Microsoft again as a leader in Analytics and BI platforms for 11 consecutive years.
Having used Microsoft Windows and Office since the 1980s and observed the entry of these products into the Nigerian homes and offices, I could hypothesize that the growth of any tech giant can be foretold by assessing the degree and scope of its penetration as an entity and product into the developing nations, particularly those in Africa. For this purpose, I have classified these companies into two categories. Companies with very strict or protectionist marketing policies that tend to be governed by the fear of open and new grounds would choose to remain local and private. You would find Apple in this category, a leader in its exclusive and secure club. Those with a generous outlook tend to be liberal and willing to take higher risks; by conquering imagined and real phobias, they boldly plunge into Africa and other similar risk adjudged markets. They would first make generous allowance to absorb projected risks and fears regarding unstable markets and losses occasioned from copyrights infringements. Microsoft belongs in the second category.
The average middle class and most of those below that class were introduced to the world wide web through Microsoft products; Widows, Office and the ubiquitous Internet Explorer had made it possible for a broad demographic to know and use the internet earlier than would have been possible without their presence. I am unable to envision any scenario where that would have been possible if Apple were the producer of those products and services. Microsoft would definitely not deliberately promote the piracy of its products, but making them accessible to many had effected a return on investments to Microsoft on a scale it probably never contemplated.
Let me digress to relate a marketing tactic deployed in Africa by the makers of Three Rings cigarettes in the 60s. Buyers narrated that when they bought a tin of cigarettes that contained about 20 sticks, they discovered lying at the bottom of the container the exact same amount of money they used to purchase the product. Additionally, the case was an attractive and useful ornament that delighted their sight as they got high and delirious on the nicotine they were sucking from the smoke. By the time the makers withdrew the free refund, enough customers had become hooked and more than willing smokers who continued to buy the product now in mutilated and ugly packaging. No one cared so long they could get their daily fix. The only analogy here is the habit formation capability of Microsoft products as tools of trade and commerce. Free is the most magical tactic to guarantee a successful marketing strategy. If you can provide cheap or free access to your product, depending on the long-term vision and resources, you have secured yourself growth and profits.
I neither subscribe to nor encourage copyright infringement to facilitate access to a product or service. The reference to it above was to underscore the conjecture I had theorized earlier. Evidently, growth models must design for accessibility and availability in terms of pricing and affordability to achieve full potentialities. Amazon realized this on its Market platform. Google and Facebook have attained successes primarily by deploying the Access Model founded on the platform of free and affordable infrastructure. Apple, on the other hand, though a manufacturer of high quality but an expensive and not easily accessible range of products, would remain a local high-value company that would not operate in the same league as the other global tech giants. Samsung’s struggle to compete with Apple has constrained the company from joining the elite AM club. Google too could have been a contender with its array of android, pixel and chrome products but is conflicted between the very successful search engine and various products it had fathered but was unable to keep faith in.
Microsoft, however, sticks with all its products and would trip only into the precipice of success. While Google had created and scrapped several chat apps, including Google+, a highly celebrated social platform, Microsoft kept faith with every single software that is created. Microsoft has transmuted its products into either Platform as a Service (PaaS) and/or Software as a Service (SaaS).
Now, let me run with some wild imagination.
The use of any of these products invariably leads to the other and slowly but surely the new modern era Matrix emerges under the seduction of the Oracle S to create a Singularity of Superior Soft Service. Teletransporting through and above the clouds into the tranquil blue sky that is the AZURE. Though Cloud and Azure Services do not actually hold any data, the symbolism carries a depth of meaning and demonstrates the amorphous capabilities and mastery in the accumulation and management of Big Data. By understanding the significance of Azure, one would have grasped the force driving Microsoft to emerge the head of the UDK – Ultimate Data Kingdom.
Data is regarded as King; though others would rather see it as the new virtual soil. Whoever commands and controls Big Data becomes the master of all. While Amazon and Apple are restricted to the atmospheric territory bounded by the Clouds, Microsoft transcends to the Azure into the mystic realm of the machine; comprising a chain of a satellite system that gathers and marshals all the data. This is the real Space Force comprising a virtual army that has effectively colonized the primary level of data generation and extraction from earthly computers. Then, it integrates with the secondary data being gathered under level two cloud chambers by Messrs. Amazon Web Services & Apple iCloud et al. Azure, sitting above it all, is the crown seat of the UDK where all data is coalesced to form a Singularity that unites all under the supremacy of Microsoft. Unlike the Blackhole that spaghettifies and destructs everything, the UDK transforms and constructs new robotic capabilities that would shape and dictate the New World Order.
I might have overstretched limits of imagination, but you understand the overall idea.