How far does $400 million go?

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface General Discussion' started by Niterider4, Feb 21, 2016.

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  1. Niterider4

    Niterider4 Active Member

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    Microsoft paid the NFL $400 million to promote the Surface. The campaign was, by every account, a complete and utter failure. I don't know how much Microsoft software engineers make, but if they make say $80,000 a year, that means the $400 million Microsoft spent promoting the Surface could have paid for 5,000 software engineers for a full year, to solve the hardware and software problems which we are all encountering with our Surface devices.

    I'm pretty sure that 5,000 engineer-years could have gone a long way to fixing every single problem that we are having with our Surfaces. Instead, Microsoft chose to waste that money on a failed promotion of the Surface, rather than actually developing and selling the product that Microsoft had promised to deliver in the first place.

    Is this the "visionary" approach that Panos Panay was touted to bring to Microsoft?
     
  2. mmc

    mmc New Member

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    Company's make bad bets. Microsoft made a Nook investment if I remember too.
     
  3. Niterider4

    Niterider4 Active Member

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    My criticism is not that MS made a bad bet. My criticism is that MS has misplaced its priorities. MS has clearly chosen to prioritize spending on promotion instead of product development. The goal appears to be a cynical one: persuade people that your product is great, at the expense of actually making the product great.

    I expect such a strategy from people selling products on the shopping channel. I do not expect this strategy from one of the world's greatest companies.
     
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  4. sharpuser

    sharpuser Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Thread not specific to the Surface Book.
    Moved to Surface General Discussion
     
  5. ScottyS

    ScottyS Active Member

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    I absolutely agree. I doubt MS will ever get as much extra business from people seeing the NFL using the Surface as Apple got from the concept "it just works".
     
  6. Niterider4

    Niterider4 Active Member

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    The magic of the iPod, in my mind, was that it was just so darned easy to use. Get music and listen to it. That's it. Even after people could download any music for free, the iPod remained wildly popular because it worked. My grandmother could use an iPod right out of the box. The iPod was not successful because of the promotional campaigns - rather, the promotional campaigns were successful because of the iPod.

    Microsoft had exactly the same opportunity with the Surface devices - proprietary hardware and software. All they had to do to make the whole program wildly successful was to just make it work. But they didn't do it - the devices have been buggy and defective, and solving problems requires surfing forums, downloading updates, going deep into settings, reloading drivers, and trying various other fixes.

    No promotional campaign in the world can make up for the one simple failure that the devices simply do not work.
     
  7. GreyFox7

    GreyFox7 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I'll open by saying you can't have a baby in a month by employing nine mothers.

    Marketing is necessary as is Quality coding, Quality design, Quality manufacturing, Quality leadership, and yes Quality Marketing too. Perhaps Quality testing is also needed vs just community testing.

    The bigger question might be what is missing or what is the difference between what was envisioned and what actually happened. Where did it go off the rails? That's a searching kind of question that likely cannot be answered by outsiders (too far away, not enough specific knowledge) or insiders (too close, cannot see the big picture) but only with a thorough review and postmortem analysis by unbiased experts.

    As far as the 400 million goes, shoot they have blown way more than that on numerous occasions, projects & boondoggles so I wouldn't single out the Surface NFL deal as the difference maker. I'm not sure an extra 400 million worth of software engineers would have even helped. They likely wouldn't have employed them effectively anyway.

    I think we can safely say the best and brightest have spent the last 4 months on some problems which still elude them to one degree or another and I don't know how 5000 more opinions on these issues would help matters. although there may be 5000 other problems that could have been solved we don't know how many problems they would have created.
     
  8. hughlle

    hughlle Super Moderator Staff Member

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    How can you say it was a complete failure? It raised awareness. Job done. The added value is a different story.

    At the end of the day, the raised awareness and sales of the product has gotten OEMs to copy the surface. Pretty sure that can be argued as a win.

    As it stands, Microsoft are the only ones in the position to understand if it was a failure or not.

    And you say just hire 5000 engineers. Yet the phrase too many cooks spoil the broth exists for a reason.

    Secondly, the majority of sp4 issues are Windows 10 problems. So now we would be arguing the issue of intra departmental budgets and subsidy. Should the surface division have gained those engineers or the Windows division?
     
  9. Niterider4

    Niterider4 Active Member

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    The NFL campaign basically highlighted the Surface's defects on national TV. Players and coaches said the Surfaces didn't work. The Surface was blamed (unfairly) for changing the outcome of a playoff game. Numerous Surfaces were shown with blank screens, while frustrated players and coaches were forced to go back to paper (which is what I have had to do on more than one occasion with my Surface). It's hard to argue that this constitutes a win, and I don't think you have to be a Microsoft CFO to figure out that this was $400 million badly spent.

    Too many cooks may spoil the broth, but open source software is proof that more people working on software problems is an effective approach. I'm not talking about 5,000 executive-hours - I'm talking about 5,000 engineer-hours. Are you telling me that 5,000 software engineers working for a year couldn't figure out how to turn off the Airplane Mode icon on the Surface when airplane mode is actually turned off?

    As to whether this is a Windows or a Surface problem - that's precisely my point. It shouldn't matter. That's exactly why Microsoft has failed in this endeavour - they own BOTH!

    Panos Panay may have said it best when he announced that battery and power management is a really difficult computer problem to solve. What he didn't say was that fooling a million people into buying a defective product is considerably easier.
     
  10. CCalvinN

    CCalvinN New Member

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    I don't think we can look at the $400 million as a waste. It was a deal to get the name "Surface" into peoples minds. And let's face it, this was a deal struck back in 2013. I'd say even with the tablets (network) failing at the Super Bowl and Johnny Manziel bashing one with his face, it still did that job of getting "Surface" into people's heads. Microsoft was entering into an already mature market. "You want a tablet? There's the iPad and a few Android tablets". That was what was on peoples minds. This deal (along with heavy television commercial use) changed that to "You want a tablet? There's the iPad, a few Android tablets, and that Microsoft Surface thingy". I think that's all the edge Microsoft needed. They just needed to get into the conversation.

    Now, they are there. Now they need to produce a good product. And let's face it... if you want your tablet to be more than just a web browser or an app player, the Surface is the only game on the market. I don't look at my Surface Pro 4 as a tablet with a great keyboard, I look at it as a laptop that can act as a tablet. It's NOT the same market as an iPad Air 2, an iPad Pro, or a Nexus 9. It's different. It just needed to get into people's heads.

    And at the end of the day, that was $400 million in marketing. It's not as though they would have spent marketing money on product development or quality control. If they didn't pay the NFL, they would have spent that money on some other marketing.
     
  11. GreyFox7

    GreyFox7 Super Moderator Staff Member

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    No, but it's a cosmetic annoyance with no impact and as such you could debate it's worth of being fixed.
     
  12. Niterider4

    Niterider4 Active Member

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    Seriously, you are arguing that not being clear on a laptop whether Airplane Mode is on or off is a mere cosmetic annoyance? You must not travel very much.

    And if that defect doesn't do it for you, how about the Surface Book crashing and freezing constantly? Or the graphics drivers crashing every day? Or the screen detach and reattach routine failing regularly? Or failing to wake from sleep? Or failing to shut down? Or heating up and chewing through battery when turned off? It is simply impossible that Microsoft did not know about all these problems when they began selling Surface Books to unwitting customers.

    Companies have a choice. They can dedicate themselves to developing and supporting quality products and thereby creating a bond with their customers, or they can dedicate themselves to other things. My argument is that Microsoft has clearly chosen the latter, and I predict the results will be overwhelmingly negative.
     
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