Innovative or not – who cares ?

In Wall Street Journal, 2 guys (Robert Scoble and Dave Winer) are raising question of whether Microsoft is innovative or not. Winer says “Microsoft isn’t an inventor, and never was”.

Scoble’s argument doesn’t appear to offer the same kid of juicy sound bite that begs to be ripped out of context, but he generally seems to be defending Microsoft as an innovator.
These guys have some smart things to say on the topic, but if I have to choose, I’ll side with Dave Winer. I personally don’t think of Microsoft as an innovator. I think of Microsoft as a company with outstanding marketing, not innovation.

But to me the more important question is, “Who cares?” When I say Microsoft is not innovative, I am not making a statement. I am wondering why Microsoft would even want to be innovative.

Microsoft is a public company. They exist for the purpose of generating profit for their shareholders. The truth is that the link between innovation and profit is weak at best.
Innovation is not the usual path to making a lot of money. Most people don’t buy innovative products. They buy proven solutions which have matured a bit further and are ready for the mainstream.

Microsoft offers a huge number of cool products that people really want, and they do it better than anybody else. If those products don’t inspire people to think of Microsoft as innovative, who cares?

Microsoft apparently cares a lot.???? They seem to want the world to see them as innovative. Scoble and Friends are not the first Microsofties to get all fussy on this issue. But why?
I think Microsoft knows that innovation usually does not lead to profit, but it does lead to admiration and prestige. People admire innovators, and Microsoft wants (so bad) to be admired.

But now it’s time for my point: If Microsoft really wants to be admired, I think they should stop complaining that people don’t admire them and start acting admirably.
My friends and readers know that I generally consider myself to be a fan of certain Microsoft’s products and technologies. That hasn’t changed.

I am also not saying I disapprove of Microsoft as a basically profit-driven corporation.
I just wish they’d stop expecting people to admire them.

Microsoft reminds me of a TAX auditor who is whining that he doesn’t have any friends.


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