Sep 10

Group dementia strikes at Microsoft

Is it Photoshop? An inmate uprising? One stretches for explanations when gazing upon the unthinkable.

In this case, we must accept the truth, now documented by several sources: last week, Microsoft really did celebrate the developer release of Windows Phone 7 by staging a mock funeral for iPhone and Blackberry. (No word on Android’s fate.)

Presumably, they used the hearse left over from the Kin launch earlier this year.

Photo: Trioculus (Flickr)

It should be noted that this wasn’t the first time someone pulled the ol’ funeral shtick out of the closet. Steve Jobs performed the same stunt in 2002 by putting his own beloved Mac OS 9 in an onstage coffin to celebrate the ascension of Mac OS X.

Think about that one for a moment. Steve was putting his own product in a coffin, simply to make a dramatic point. He wasn’t sticking Windows in a coffin to proclaim its doom. Sitting there with 3% of the market share, that would have made him look ridiculous. Microsoft, with a 0% market share for its all-new Window Phone 7, has no such qualms.

But I don’t mean to make this a story about Steve Jobs vs. Microsoft. It’s really just a story about intelligence vs. stupidity.

When the world is watching, and you’re playing catch-up with the big boys, you simply don’t go out and embarrass yourself. When you get all dressed up, you think twice about putting on the clown nose.

I’m not suggesting that Microsoft employees be locked in their offices. (Well, maybe one.) A new product launch is exactly the right time to celebrate all those months of hard work. People should be excited. Dreams of success should be dancing in their heads. If I worked at Microsoft, I’d be drinking the beer and partying with the rest of them.

It’s just that normally, a grown adult approves the celebration — and prevents employees of questionable taste from giving the whole company a black eye.

Fake funeral parades, giant phone models, costumes and hearses don’t just happen by themselves. Sometime, somewhere, a Microsoft manager looked at this brainless plan and said “sure, let’s have some fun” — instead of “you’re fired for even suggesting it.”

I can only imagine how the guys over in PR must feel. They must have steam coming out of their ears. Then again, this is Microsoft. It’s possible they were out there driving the hearse.

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  • sarumbear

    Microsoft’s market share is low, but not exactly 0%. Their market share is dropping dramatically since the release of iOS 3 & Android, but it is still well above 10%.

    I am not advocating Microsoft and Windows Mobile. I am just flagging an error, which is out of place in an otherwise excellent blog :-)

  • ken segall

    Thanks, I’ll go back and clarify the post. But this is a bit tricky because I was actually referring to the market share of Windows Phone 7, which obviously is 0%. Phones running 6 can’t be upgraded to 7, so Microsoft is in effect starting off with a brand new platform.

  • Kesey

    Oh to be a fly on the wall in one of those meetings!

  • rd

    The guy taking the picture is actually
    dressed as Android according to some other blog.
    So Android is still standing.

  • Jimi

    I was waiting for this one to make it to your blog, ken…

    I would love to know how exactly this kind of thing happens. I realise that Redmond is a big place, but when the words “can you just ring the local funeral director’s and find out how much a Hearse will cost to rent for an afternoon” comes out of someone’s mouth in the office shouldn’t a least one person ask what is going on?

    I wonder if the person who organised it had time to change their office communicator status to ‘fired’ before they got thrown out of the building…

  • >Presumably, they used the hearse left over from the Kin launch earlier this year.

    > It’s possible they were out there driving the hearse.

    Any more guesses regarding my origin, or should I just tell you? :-)