Friday, June 15, 2012

Will A Microsoft Tablet Perform Better Than Their Zune?

Microsoft is scheduled to make a big announcement on Monday.  And the advance word is that it will be a tablet, competing with the Apple  iPad and others.  While historically, Microsoft has licensed it's software on other products, the  plan may be for Microsoft to manufacture its own tablet.  The question is, can Microsoft catch up to Apple or will this attempt be as unsuccessful as their Zune product, an iPod wannabee?  So far the track record for Microsoft hasn't been good, but the mantra must be, never stop trying.

"The problem with this strategy in the tablet market is that Apple and Google have disrupted the business model.  Google offers its software for free, and its hardware partners struggle to match Apple on the price and quality of the iPad."  For Microsoft, the challenge must be to bring something new to the product line that competitors haven't done before and to make it better.  I can imagine that one way to take a bite out of Apple would be to price its table noticeably lower than the iPad.  Second would be to build in unique functionality that interacts seamlessly with its Xbox product.  A second screen perhaps to make game playing even more immersive or controller elements from the tablet to the  screen.  Marketing their tablet to their Xbox loyalists could also help capture a significant share quickly, provided that a needed benefit is demonstrated.

So stay tuned for Microsoft's Monday announcement.  The tablet space is getting more interesting, indeed.

Sirius And Liberty Wrestle For Control

The fight for ownership of SiriusXM continues to play out as Liberty Media tries to buy enough shares of the stock to claim ownership of the asset.  Mel Karmazin, current CEO, has no interest in ceding control and is known for not liking to be less than lead dog in the fight.

"At the heart of the battle appears to be Mr. Karmazin's conviction that Liberty shouldn't get control of Sirius without paying for it."  Which seems to mean that Karmazin is happy to depart if he gets his fair share.  With options currently valued near $170 million, the higher Karmazin can get Liberty to pay for the stock, the more money he can earn.  And while financial reward may not be Karmazin's only win, it sure can lessen the blow of losing control to Liberty.

But it isn't all about the money and for Karmazin, perhaps the question would be, what would the next act in his career look like.  He may not want to start over again with another company and might hope that his work with Sirius can continue a while longer, provided that he can still maintain full control.  But should Liberty ultimately take ownership, that might not be possible.