Hearing Footsteps

The Economist pooh pooh’d Microsoft’s latest splash in tablet computing:

One reason why the iPad has been so successful is that it blends beautiful hardware with an amazing range of software. Microsoft has attractive assets, in particular Skype (an internet calling service), its alliance with Barnes & Noble (a big online bookseller) and its Xbox ecosystem. Yet other than the firm’s Office suite of productivity tools, none of these was shown at this week’s launch. “Microsoft has missed an opportunity to highlight things that can inspire people,” says Sarah Rotman Epps of Forrester, a research firm.

Ok, let’s dial down the ‘new and shiny’ fetish for a sec. Microsoft Office is THE reason the company remains relevant today. The fact that a tablet computer is coming out with the potential for seamless support of Excel and Word and Outlook is most definitely an iPad-maiming development.

People make money using “productivity software”. They don’t make money playing games and messing around on social networks. And the bottom line of business is you get rich by helping people get rich*. Those who wish to clone Apple and Facebook ignore this point.

If the MS tablet is 50% as good as the iPad at everything else, I’ll buy it. Hell, the blackberry is 10% as good as the iPhone at everything other than email (at which it is 100% better) and because I vote with my wallet, RIM can easily ignore my distant envious whine as they self-destruct.

*I feel like I should clarify that there’s absolutely no denying that dominance of the consumer segment is incredibly lucrative for Apple. So let’s either call that an exception to my little pet rule or admit that I simply don’t know what I’m talking about.

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