Microsoft was once on the top for personal computer just a few years ago and seemed invincible. It has been amazing to watch how fast they have fallen. In 2012 their old rival Apple surpassed them for the first time selling more computing devices than Microsoft sold installation of Windows.
Their flag ship operating system market is rapidly shrinking as people move away from personal computers in favor of mobile devices. The introduction of the smart TV is going to further kill the home market for personal computers. I would predict that within five years the home personal computer will disappear.
Their foothold in business is still strong but also in decline. The stand-alone work computer with an independent operating systems will also a thing of the past. Cloud based solutions with integration across multiple devices is the new direction.
Even their popular Office suite is vulnerable. There are alternatives including Google and it was only last week that Google announced they would make their office fully compatible making it easy for businesses to migrate away from Microsoft.
Without change Microsoft would continue in steep decline. They are not about to disappear anytime soon as they are still highly capitalized but they need to pull some rabbits out of the hat soon.
The one announcement that I knew would not do anything to save the company was the return of Bill Gates. Microsoft needs change and innovation and there is not an innovative bone in his body. The image of Bill as a nerd or geek is a myth. He did not develop the MS DOS operating system, he purchased it from the real developer after he had already sold it to IBM. I would call Bill Gates an entrepreneur but never an innovator and certainly not a visionary.
The innovative force in micro computing for the past three decades was Steve Jobs. He was a true visionary and introduced innovation, which Microsoft was continually forced to catch up with. Without this pressure Microsoft would probably have never moved away from the command prompt.
This man might save Microsoft
I read with interest when Satya Nadella was appointed the new CEO. He had come up through the ranks in Microsoft and was apparently well liked and respected. Microsoft certainly needed radical change but was this the man to save the company?
I have heard people say that the biggest mistake Microsoft made was Windows 8 and they should return to the popular and proven Windows 7 type platform. I could not disagree more. In my opinion they should have introduced something like Windows 8 at least two years before they did and they might have had a chance in the new mobile market. Google now dominate mobile computing with the lions share followed by Apple.
Recently Microsoft purchased Nokia who ironically were also a market leader only a few years ago but quickly supplanted by the same new mobile operating system from Google that has kept Windows out of the mobile market.
This could be a brilliant move by Microsoft that can leverage their brand recognized as a market leader in operating systems and the still well recognized Nokia mobile phone brand. This is not just a great marketing idea. Microsoft have also acquired Nokia’s already established world wide distribution channels.
All they need to do is produce a decent product that follows Apples model of cloud based integration across all their other devices and then promote it and they will have something that might seriously challenge Google.
There is every indication they can do this. They are already offering their Office suit via a cloud with affordable annual subscription.
Satya Nadella has just announced what may seem to many simply pedantic but I believe it is the most powerful indication yet that Microsoft have undergone the paradigm shift it needs into order to make the changes it needs to make.
The announcement simply is that Microsoft is now a ‘productivity and platform company’. The company is hereby no longer about “devices and services,” which as how Steve Ballmer had described it.
I don’t really care if they succeed or not as I am not a fan of Microsoft. I was actually a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and worked with their products for many years but switched to Apple two years ago and found their OS vastly superior to Windows. My concern is that Apple can stay innovative now that Steve Jobs is gone.
Microsoft have just acquired Nokia and will launch its own brand of mobile phones abandoning the Nokia brand.
I must admit that I am following what Microsoft does with interest. I have previously written that unless they pull a rabbit out of the hat soon they will go into steep decline. Their failure to get a foothold the mobile market and the decreasing PC market means a rapidly shrinking market for their operating system which is their main product. While they have other major products such as their Office suite these piggyback on the success of their operating system. Without Windows they become just another application provider competing in an increasingly competitive market place.
Can Microsoft turn things around? It certainly has the capital to do it. The acquisition of Nokia could well be the rabbit out of the that they need. They have been unable to convince major mobile phone manufactures to use their OS so now they are adapting a variation of the old adage “if you can’t beat them then join them” . They are buying ready made infrastructure for the manufacture and distribution of a mobile phone to compete directly in the market place.
Just a few yeas ago I doubt Microsoft could have acquired Nokia who at that time was the number one mobile phone company in the world and seemed invincible. Nokia failed to successfully adapt to the new smart phone market and has been supplanted from the top by Android (spear headed by Samsung). They did launch their own smart phone OS called Symbian but it was plagued with bugs and eventually scrapped. They finally announced they would use Windows but it was too late to save them.
I see this acquisition as a move in the right direction but I do have reservations about the decision to abandon the Nokia brand name. I would have thought it would still have considerable value in the market place. The brand name never fell into disrepute. It just faded away due to not providing the consumer with what they wanted at the time. I am sure that most people still associate the brand with reliable quality mobile phones. Switching to the Microsoft branding requires establishing a new association with Microsoft as a producer of mobile phones. Perhaps they have a brilliant marketing campaign in mind that will leverage the Nokia pedigree along with the known Microsoft brand.
IMicrosoft have never really been innovators like Apple and Google. t will be interesting to see what they come up with both in terms of marketing and the actual product.
Could cloud based solutions running on terminals replace the traditional office PC?
I recently made some comments on facebook on a topic about the future of PC’s and suggested that businesses will most likely move to cloud based solutions and ultimately away for the PC with its independent operating system.
I have many years in support and have managed two national help desks including 2nd and 3rd level support. I have also managed team rollouts of SOE’s (Standard Operating Environments) for IBM in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. So I understand the cost of IT support and desire of a business to minimize this cost.
The office PC with its independent operating system is expensive to support and most users would prefer a simpler solution. We are already seeing this in the domestic market where the sale of tablets are mobile phones has exploded replacing the traditional desktop. I have made the prediction that the PC will disappear from most private homes in five years. It’s not just tablets and smart phones but also the new internet connected Smart TV’s.
The decision to abandon the traditional office PC may come just as rapidly. All it needs is a major player to come up with a terminal based cloud solution. These new terminals will be nothing like the original dumb terminal of thirty yeas ago. These will be more like the tablets of today.
I also made some comments about Microsoft and how if I had shares I would be selling them as fast as could. Their future looks bleak unless they can pull a rabbit out of the hat. Their main product is an OS which that has missed the mobile boat and lingers on a ever shrinking desktop market. Their other product is an Office suite that still has a huge user base but at the same time is not unique.
My comments predicting the demise of the PC in both the domestic and office environments was met with almost hostility by some. I was told I was dreaming when I said that business might move to cloud based solutions.
Today I saw a headline that the Queensland government has done exactly that. They have abandoned the traditional locally installed MS Office in favor of a cloud based subscription service. This will still be accessed via traditional PC’s but it does demonstrate that businesses are more than receptive to the idea of cloud based solutions.
In the same article the UK government have announced plans to drop Microsoft altogether in favour of open-source alternatives stating they wanted to move away from the small “oligopoly” of suppliers which had long dominated the market.
As I said I would not be holding any Microsoft shares right now. They are still one of the most capitalized companies in the world but have not demonstrated much innovation and always seem to lag behind technology.
I have just taken a trip back in time to 1984 when the first Macintosh computer was released. I just watched a video of Steve Jobs first demonstration of the Mac to the Boston Computer Society on January 1984.
I opened the video with mild nostalgic interest but not because I was a fan of apple back then. I only got my first apple computer only two years ago.
I got my first computer in 1979. For those curious it was a Sorcerer with a whopping 8 kilobytes of RAM powered by a Z80 cpu and running CPM. This was two years before the release of the first IBM PC so I was an early starter and can remember exactly what it was like back in 1984 when the first Mac was launched.
By todays standards that first Mac does not look impressive at all but at the time it was amazing and a profound affect on the personal computer market.
What was really interesting to me was listening to Steve Jobs talking about the future of personal computing. I was able, with benefit of 20/20 hindsight, to go back to 1984 and look at the future as Steve Jobs had done and really appreciate what a visionary he was.
I got something more from watching the video. I got an incredible sense of déjà vu as I look to the future now from 2014.
Most people wait for change to happen and then get dragged along by it, often kicking and screaming. There are a few of us that see change coming and try to position ourselves to take maximum advantage of it.
This is exactly what I am trying to do now and I found watching Steve Jobs and the first demonstration of the Mac very inspirational.
We are constantly hearing how important a social marketing strategy is for website promotion. SEO people talk about it but not many SEO people really understand its value and how to harness it. There are two aspects to a Social Marketing strategy which I will touch on.
The first is Social Proof. I mentioned the old system where other webmasters voted for pages to get them higher rankings and that obviously this is a floored system open to manipulation and abuse. Google and others now look to “Social Signals” as social proof to indicate what real people really like.
Many SEO companies now realise they need social marketing and have started doing the same type of manipulation they used with the old system and conclude it doesn’t work when results aren’t achieved. The problem is they buy or generate “likes” and other social signals from fake profiles using automated scripts. Not only does it not work but it’s going to come back and bite them, including the sites they promote which might also be penalised.
For the first time ever its become DANGEROUS to use the wrong SEO company. Previously the worst outcome was that they did not get results.
Facebook are in the process right now of removing almost 100 million fake accounts. It is so easy for these Social Networks to recognize auto-generated accounts and activity. A real facebook user spends time logged into their account. They most likely send and receive PM’s with others. They like certain things and slowly build up a network of friends. Some friends send them a friend request and they send others requests. In a nut shell it’s all about natural activity.
This is also what Google is looking for and recently has become a Social Network with the introduction of Google Plus. At the same time, Facebook has become a Search Engine. They now include web search on their page. They determine the ranking of results from what they see on their own network with popularity of keywords and links to external websites. An increasing number of people are finding websites via social networks and not traditional search engines. If you are not seeing Facebook in your statistics as a Search Engine Referral its because you are not visible on Facebook.
The other aspect of Social is that it is increasingly being used by people to make purchasing decisions. Search Engine results have tended to be static pages with older information presented by the author of the page. Social media offers more dynamic information from real people. What most do not realize is that many people are discovering products and services on social media and considering the reviews of people about those products and services. Then they may go to a search engine and locate the product and service to make a purchase.
Personal endorsements and recommendations on social media for a site are very valuable especially when a business is focused on service rather than price. The trouble is how to get them. To increase your online visibility in social media you need to generate activity and its extremely time consuming. The solution offered by most SEO companies would be using automated programs to general the social signals but as I have mentioned this not only does not work but is also potentially detrimental.
Many businesses wanting to build or redevelop their website will look for a company to design their new site and focus most of the attention on the look and feel of the new site with its promotion taken for granted.
Many website design companies will claim their design package includes ongoing promotion but far too often this is as superficial as offering free car washes when what is needed is full mechanical servicing.
It is important to remember that website design and promotion are two distinct tasks and it’s very important not to let one overshadow the other.
Many web design companies are extremely poor at promotion and many website promotion companies providing design are poor at creating sites that engage visitors and convert them into customers.
The design can be critical to the success of the website. Understanding how to design the website to be both friendly to search engines and at the same time engage the visitor was previously almost mutually exclusive but this has changed radically in the past year.
The problem is many website promotion companies, which you probably know better as SEO companies, still focus on design to please the Search Engines and treat human visitors as secondary. This is the “get top ranking on Google and your site will be successful” mentality.
Much of the changes implemented by Google over the past year have been about ensuring that the websites it lists in its organic results are not just highly relevant but also engaging for the visitor and they have introduced many techniques to measure this.
Designing websites to try to manipulate and please the Search Engine algorithm without regard to real human visitors will no longer work. The new focus for website design needs to be on the visitor experience and converting them into real customers.
The advice given by Google now is little or no SEO is best. This is over simplistic and not really the full picture. It is important to understand the fundamental changes over the past year and what is needed to design and promote a website that will be successful in attracting real visitors that convert into sales.
Anyone who has read anything recently about SEO will be aware that there have been major changes over the past year that have not just moved the goal posts but changed the entire playing field.
Here at VisiSearch we actually started working on a new system that integrated social into SEO late last year. We saw the writing on the wall before Google introduced any of its major changes.
For the first six months of the year we, and every other SEO company, were hit by wave after wave of changes by Google. Everything has now changed.
Under the new SEO landscape there is very little that can be done to promote a site that would not be considered black hat by the major search engines and social networks.
A website owner is expected to follow Google’s advice that “little or no SEO is best” and hope Google will reward them for doing nothing.
This is a big lie.
Google simply don’t want anyone trying to manipulate the results their algorithm would naturally choose which favors their own advertising programs and revenue streams.
They claim they have user experience and the surfers best interests at heart but the reality is they wanted to kill off the entire SEO industry and at the same time remove internet marketers.
SEO interferes with their Google Adwords program. Companies pay money to SEO companies to try to get better positions in organic search rather than pay money directly to Google for placement on the paid areas of their Search Engine screen.
Internet marketers promote products and services and receive a commission for each sale or lead they generate. When Google first launched their Adsense program, they welcomed and encouraged internet marketers to join but now they want to eliminate most of them as they see Internet Marketers as unnecessary middle men taking a percentage of income from advertising budgets which again they would prefer went to them directly.
Anyone with a website who wants to promote online should make no mistake about the motives and intentions of Google. It’s a commercial company focused on the bottom line and not some community service project with a mission to deliver their visitors with the best results.
You need a website promotions company that understands this new playing field and that to focus on SEO alone is now ineffective and any successful promotional campaign needs to incorporate real social proof. This is why I do not like to use the term “SEO” but prefer to use the term “Online Visibility”.
I always conduct keyword research like most other companies do, but in addition to this basic keyword research I produce a Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) report on each selected keyword.
In simple terms, these are related synonyms or keywords. For example, if you had a website on Baby Bottles, an important LSI keyword that should be on your website is “Breast Pump”. Google expects to see this keyword on a site so it will rank highly for Baby Bottles.
I produce an LSI report for the top keywords for a site I want to rank for. This is an ordered list of the most important associated keywords that should be worked into the text on a page.
Google analyze text for relevance and the inclusion of LSI keywords in a primary indicator of relevance.
Does your current SEO company use and integrate LSI keywords into their promotional campaign?
After reading my last post a friend asked how much I have been affected. I have suffered more than 50% decline in my income since early this year. My adsense network is all but gone but was never a major source of income for me anyway. Book sales for Streetwise Philippines, which I am a part owner, have not really been affected. My affiliate sales are down for a few niche products. I am not spending any time trying to build things back up right now as my priority is my new security project internetSOS.
Really I am ok – some of my friends are not. Here are the experiences of five of my close SEO/Internet Marketing buddies:
1. This friend ran a very successful SEO company for high end clients. He got great results for them mainly using Filipino writers and SPLOG networks. He was one of the first hit hard by Google Panda/Penguin and within a month half his clients had left him having watched their sites move from top rankings to being banished from the top 100. He is leaving the internet and moving back into financial consultancy work.
2. This friend developed information sites for adsense. These were not the content spam sites that Google understandably wanted to remove but quality sites with substantial unique content all proof read by his American partner. Recently Google apparently did a manual review of one of his sites and found something it took exception to so they cancelled his adsense account confiscating the 10 thousand dollars he had accumulated in the previous month. Google does not provide any information on what the problem was or what particular site it had issue with. He has just sold his biggest money earner and does not want anything to do with Google ever again.
3. This friend was probably the most successful of all earning an average of 30 to 35 thousand dollars a month has been totally devastated by Google. He dominated a few niches with world wide #1 and #2 positions but all his money sites have dropped way down in SERP and in many cases out of the top 100. He was one of the last to be affected for some reason and relished the fact that he was unaffected and others were actually and more than implied that it was due to his superior SEO knowledge. Did he eat humble pie after he was wiped out? Not at all! Instead he has been in denial about this pretending that everything is fine. It should occur to him that we can all the same SERP results so his position is silly.
4. This friend was making most of his money from affiliate sales has experienced a 50% drop in sales. His comment to me just last night was “you know i am really running out of ideas…getting frustrated nothing i try works”.
5. This friend was also hit hard and has since got a regular job but is still dabbling in SEO. He has a brilliant mind when it comes to SEO / Google and in my opinion spends way too much analyzing and testing things.
I started to write a number of articles about why I thought SEO was becoming an obsolete term back in December 2011 and had a clear idea of what I wanted to say with maybe half a dozen more articles planned in my head. The writing was already on the wall back then but the first half of 2012 saw Google introducing changes faster than I ever imagined thy would. I got distracted by other projects and then watching things unfold.
The changes or disruptions as one of my friends call them were thick and fast. The changes have gone through the SEO/Internet Marketing world like twisters destroying everything in its path. Just as one change hit causing them to scramble to try to repair the damage another and another hit.
The dust has started to settle and I do not know a single SEO/Internet Marketing person that has not been seriously affected. Networks they spent years developing have been wiped out an instant along with income. So devastating has been the changes that three of my good friends are moving out of SEO/Internet Marketing while others I know are radically changing their direction or still trying to work out what to do.
I wish I had of completed my articles back in December as so much of what I planned to write about has come to fruition much faster than I ever imagined it would. I will now continue with my articles but instead of SEO is becoming an obsolete terms I will change it to why I think SEO is Dead!