American Gods

In a scene eerily reminiscent of Neil Gaimans stark novel American Gods, one of Redmonds Demigods, Steve Ballmer, was shouting over and over “I love you, partners … I love you, partners”. And well he might. For 6000 partners came to Minneapolis at Redmonds beck and call despite being treated to ever shrinking market opportunities in Windows as Microsoft reserved for itself ever wider swaths of markets long and hard developed by these same partners. Nonetheless these very same partners showed up to hear what the Redmond Demigods were decreeing about what markets and work was available to them. And Redmond promised them plenty.

Office developers were promised “at the partner conference with tantalizing tales of $140bn in unrealized market opportunities for companies building applications and services using Office 2003 in messaging and collaboration, portal and enterprise content management, enterprise project management and smart client.”(courtesy of the Register – see full report here). Oops …. make that just portal and smart client apps preferably and be quick about it because we are going to be closing that out soon too.

And Ballmer was so happy to see those partners working so hard for Redmond that he was dispensing some Demigogishly friendly advice: “But shortly thereafter, Ballmer warned the companys channel partners that Microsoft has its sights set on some markets that partners have had to themselves until now. Ballmer said that Microsoft is planning to make deeper forays into the business intelligence, document workflow, security and managed services arenas in the coming decade.”(courtesy of Microsoft Watch – see full report here).

Decade! My gosh the BlitzKrieg in BI got started 9 months ago as major partners see their markets attacked across the board with free giveaways in OLAP, data mining, reporting, ETL, realtime BI systems and desktop development and services. Talk about a massive campaign to gain Microsoft monopoly market share in the total BI market at the expense of its partners. If ProClarity, Cognos, Hyperion, Business Objects, and other erstwhile BI partners were at the conference – I wonder what they had to say ? Meanwhile a small piece of advice to security, workflow and managed services sectors – Redmond will launch major and minor attacks in late summer and Fall.

So what did Ballmer have to top that ?

Well after advising partners not to compete with Redmond in horizontal markets – read that as stay out of general purpose software in BI, security, workflow and managed services and a few other major markets to be named at a later date but think ERP, CRM, and general Business Apps – Ballmer, Burgum, and company bilked the partners again on vertical markets. Last year and again this year, Microsoft has been saying a safe bet is to specialize and use Microsoft products (the ones you used to compete with) to develop into vertical markets – safe haven.

Oops – we misspoke. That was earlier – now Redmond is saying let us tell you what specific vertical markets you may enter; because Microsoft will be entering the vertical market spaces too. And god knows, Redmond does not want to step on its partners toes (read here and here for the details).

Ahhh to be embraced and loved to the death by DemiGog Steve Ballmer – see I told you, it is a scene straight out of American Gods. The book, which is fiction, is great stuff; the Redmond Reality for its “partners” is … a dogs breakfast.

(c)JBSurveyer 2005