Another Gigantic Fail for Microsoft Marketing Team: Kumo.com
Microsoft Possibly to Rebrand Live Search to Kumo.com?
Though it is only rumored, Search Engine Land‘s (SEL) column on this move offers some convincing evidence that this rebranding is in the works.
Why Kumo.com Will Fail As Rebranding:
Let’s start with the fact that Microsoft is trying too hard to be that nice, neat, and all-expansive buzz word: “Web 2.0″. Kumo supposedly can be translated to mean “cloud” or “spider” in Japanese. So it’s likely they are thinking more along the vein of “spider” than “cloud”.
It’s just unique enough to completely forget.
Secondly, if the they don’t augment the search algorithm capability to, at the very least, match what Google and Yahoo are doing, then it won’t matter that it’s called Kumo. It will still return the results that have made it a consistent #3 search engine, and still be equipped with the functionality that make a search disaster.
Lastly, the Microsoft Team has participated in far too many blunders. Starting with Microsoft/Seinfeld Ads and then possibly using BrowseRank, then going back a year to the launch of Vista. Microsoft’s reputation has taken too many blows to hide behind a simple name change. They don’t have to start from scratch, but they certainly need to put much more thought into these branding messages.
My advice: time to find a new marketing team. This is should be the final nail in the coffin for the completely inept, and non-tech folks they’ve got working these branding schemes now.
What Will Really Happen if Microsoft Goes Through with Kumo.com
If the speculative change happens, then Microsoft will see, overall, a lower share of the search market. This is an attempt to reach out to a younger, possibly more tech-savvy audience, interested in social networking and “cool, unusual names”. Microsoft must have looked at the numbers and seen that the majority of their users are non-tech and net-savvy Boomers and older. Those users who use IE (Internet Explorer) like it’s going out of style.
And, the way Microsoft pushes out their branding pieces is so “in your face”, that it will be impossible to disassociate itself from Kumo.com if it does happen to tank miserably (which it will). They’ll see an influx of users, much the way Kuil (Cool) did, and then slide into a slow and destitute oblivion, with very little hope of Live Search ever resurfacing and regaining back users.
They only way Microsoft has a chance if they launch Kumo as a somewhat independent engine, loosely associated to Microsoft Live Search. In this manner, Kumo will be able to gather a user base organically. And if and when it chokes out, Live Search will still have a semi-strong brand backing and not have lost too many users. But to completely switch the branding over to Kumo as the new Search Crown Jewel is brand-suicide.
According to TopNews, “In the internal memo, Satya Nadella said, “Kumo.com exists only inside the corporate network, and in order to get enough feedback we will be redirecting internal live.com traffic over to the test site in the coming days. Kumo is the codename we have chosen for the internal test.“
Update #2 From Search Engine Land
How about that brand name? Last year at SMX Advanced, then Microsoft online services president Kevin Johnson acknowledged that Microsoft had a search brand problem, one that he decisively said would be fixed, even if that meant getting a new brand. Since then, four contenders for the new brand name have emerged:
Hey, What’s The Deal With Microsoft?
That’s right, Microsoft has enlisted the help of Jerry Seinfeld for it’s next round of Ad campaigns against their arch-nemesis Apple. Check the details of this new alliance at WSJ, some good information here.
Why The Microsoft Marketing Team Needs To Be Shot
Nothing says 90’s relevance like Jerry Seinfeld. Instead rebranding themselves as forward-thinking and futuristic, they have relegated themselves back to 90’s when Microsoft was king and Apple had yet to break through with the iPod. The days of yore.
Of course Seinfeld is going to be just one of the many celebrities promoting Microsoft, but if this is any indication of where this $300 million dollar campaign is headed, then Microsoft is about to piss away a fortune and end up in worse shape than they already are.
This is a stroke of less brilliance and more trying to capture a middle-aged/Boomer market that has drifted to Apple in the past 5 years.
Why It’s Going To Fail (Just Like Everything Microsoft Does Lately)
There’s no innovation whatsoever. They’ve always been a johnny-come-lately (i.e. search engine algorithms, AdCenter, Live Maps, etc.) , and they will always be. They are continually five or more years behind the curve on just about everything they do, outside of their Office Suite. (Which, by the way, is quite possibly the only thing Microsoft does well)
Microsoft reads the focus group reports, crunches the numbers, and come up with a strategy on that. They are always, always aiming for the where bar is TODAY not where they want the bar to be TOMORROW. That’s the problem. Apple has the market cornered on the “satirical” ads between the two, and to green-light this marketing strategy, is just another example of today-thinking, not tomorrow-thinking.
Perhaps Microsoft should actually build themselves a “Wall” before they completely throw their money and their brand “Out the Window”.
Here’s the first of the Seinfeld/Gates/Microsoft Ads: (Note: Wow. Not Great)
Even Bigger Update: 9/18/2008
Microsoft announces the end of the Gates/Seinfeld Ads. When I’m right, I’m right. Check out this ValleyWag Article.
Redefining What Search Engine Monopoly Means:
The question whether or not Google is a monopoly is a sound one. And, inherently, the answer I can come up with is, “yes” it is a monopoly, based on the proof the Hitwise image provides (see above). Google has been steadily drowning the competition for over two years, each year pushing them (Yahoo, Live, and Ask) further in the undertow. But are they are true monopoly?
The definitions of monopoly are as follows:
“Exclusive control by one group of the means of producing or selling a commodity or service”
- “A market containing a single firm”
- Investment Dictionary: “A situation in which a single company or group owns all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service. By definition, monopoly is characterized by an absence of competition – which often results in high prices and inferior products.”
It’s the last definition that gives me pause. Based on this definition, one could go either way on the monopoly vote. And, based on the last definition, my answer changes. I don’t think Google has a monopoly, just a better products and services that a populous prefers. They’ve revolutionized search and the clarity of search. Google has competition in the market (albeit poor competition in the populous’ eyes). Moreover, this competition produces inferior products and services.
So, if others will continue to insist that Google is a monopoly, then we will have to redefine monopoly for the Digital Age. Something to the effect of:
“Dominant market control in an individual industry, made up of several sub-industries, in which market competition produces inferior, under-caliber products and services.”
There are, as I see it, only three possibilities from here and monopoly-hood:
- Google continues on its current path. And, by 2010, will have effectively crushed all their competition, owning over 90+% of the search market share. Read this as: Google Officially Becomes A Monopoly
- Yahoo does eventually, team up with MSN/Live (MicroHoo). This partnership creates enough innovation within search and its sub-industries to cause a slight reverse in trends. Google will still own 50+% of the search market share.
- A new search engine firm will emerge and help create destabilization within the search market. (The most unlikely of the three)
Personally, I’m rooting for the second or third option, because, frankly, it’ll make my life pretty boring if all I have to do is think: WWGD (What Would Google Do). I’m not saying that Google is/will become Skynet or the Matrix, but it could happen. Anything we can do to help shake up the market is a good thing.
UPDATE: 10/08/08: Googleopoly
Check out this post by Rusty Brick (a.ka. Barry) posted on SE Roundtable. More great information about whether Google is truly a monopoly or not.