tech innovation

Strike Up the Band: Microsoft Wearable "As Open as You Can Get"

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 30, 2014 11:43 AM

Health-tracking monitors and wearable tech are red hot. Wearables from FitBit, Nike, Samsung and Garmin have led the way on the fitness device front, while the Apple Watch is coming next year.

Now Microsoft is getting a jump on its longtime rival with the announcement of the (drum roll, please) Microsoft Band wearable health tracker.

The pitch is simple, and alluring: "Introducing the smart band from Microsoft. Live healthier, be more productive, and stay connected with the people and moments that matter most. Powered by Microsoft Health."Continue reading...

tech innovation

Microsoft Looks to the Cloud for Innovation and Growth

Posted by Dale Buss on October 21, 2014 11:14 AM

In his first television interview since becoming Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella told CNBC about his current focus: Microsoft's cloud ambitions. He also talked about why he won't spin off Microsoft's consumer properties and how he's changing the model of the company's flagship Windows brand and business.

Nadella's press remarks highlighted how the company has the scale, resources, and know-how to dominate the booming $100 billion market. But in contrast to its competitors, Microsoft's cloud-serving operations are still only a sliver of its overall business—about $4.5 billion of its annual $70-billion take—so there's tremendous upside and opportunity in the space.

Nadella's overarching goal is to pivot Microsoft more toward the cloud and mobile services, where it faces competition from Google and Apple, CNBC notes. He highlighted new features of Azure, which is used by 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies, which may even be deployed in the fight against Ebola, as Mashable reports.

He also promised to overhaul iconic Microsoft software brands such as Office along with Windows 10, which he described to USA Today as not just another iteration of the venerable operating system "but the start of a complete generation of windows that's as much a service as it is an OS that runs across many devices." Continue reading...

green shoots

Hold the Protest: Will Funny Greenpeace Ads Drive Amazon to #ClickClean?

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 19, 2014 11:39 AM

Greenpeace’s latest campaign, #ClickClean, targets major tech players like Amazon and Twitter to source more of their energy from renewables such as solar, wind and hydro power.

Featuring musician/comedian Reggie Watts, Greenpeace launched ClickClean following its April report that showed which of the Internet’s biggest players are using dirty or clean energy. The activist group began addressing the cloud issue in 2012, challenging Apple, Microsoft and Amazon to power their data centers with renewable energy. Apple has since complied and is powering its iCloud with 100-percent renewable energy. Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Rackspace and Box also are taking actions to increase their green cred.

"We set out to develop a campaign that had humor at its core and that people would rally behind and share," said Mary Hanifin, executive producer from The VIA Agency that worked with Greenpeace, according to Fast Company. "Positive persuasion by numbers, you could say. Reggie’s unique brand of comedy, devoted following and ability to convey complex themes through humor made him a perfect fit."Continue reading...

brand strategy

HP Joins Cloud Computing Arms Race with Helion

Posted by Dale Buss on May 8, 2014 12:02 PM

HP believes there's plenty of room on the horizon for another cloud, so the brand known for PCs and printers is making its biggest foray yet into the softer side of the IT business.

CEO Meg Whitman has pledged to spend $1 billion over the next two years to create HP Helion, launching products and services for open-source cloud software via the rising platform, OpenStack, in a move that will compete with the two brands that have so far dominated cloud computing—Amazon and Google.

"This changes how we think about who we are competing with," said Bill Hilf, HP's vice president of cloud product and service management, according to the New York Times. As part of the move, the company's "public" cloud will expand from two to 20 of its 80 data centers worldwide within a year.

HP is putting all of its existing cloud offerings under the Helion brand and will indemnify its customers from any third-party patent claims that may arise against its open-source software. It will even extend that protection to the customers of their customers, the Times reported.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Microsoft's Nadella Gets Down to Business with Marketing Shake-Up

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 4, 2014 02:07 PM

Satya Nadella has been the CEO of Microsoft for exactly one month and he's already shaking up the ranks at the venerable tech brand. 

The company announced Monday that executive Tony Bates, who had been passed over for the CEO role, and Tami Reller, Microsoft's chief marketing officer, would be leaving the company. While Reller's departure means the loss of one of Microsoft's top female executives, it signals a change in the company's marketing and brand strategy.

That new outlook will be ushered in by Chris Capossela, an executive on the company's marketing team who Nadella has promoted to EVP and CMO to oversee all marketing, and Mark Penn, the creator of Microsoft's "Honestly" campaign (including the Google-tweaking "Scroogled" campaign), who was named Chief Strategy Officer. 

“He’s aggressive,” Mark Moerdler, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said of Penn, according to Bloomberg. “Maybe this will add a little testosterone to the organization to counter the fact that Satya is more of a deep thinker.”Continue reading...

app watch

Could IBM's Watson Be the Next Big App Platform?

Posted by Barry Silverstein on February 27, 2014 04:19 PM

Amid the flurry of product announcements (even by left-for-dead BlackBerry) and buzz over wearables at this week's Mobile World Congress, there was a keynote speech by IBM CEO Ginni Rometty that may have long-term implications for the mobile application world.

During her presentation, Rometty announced the "IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge," a first of its kind global competition to encourage mobile developers to create mobile consumer and business apps powered by Watson, the company's super-computer of Jeopardy! fame. The competition comes on the heels of IBM's launching of the IBM Watson Group, which it unveiled at CES 2014 in January.

While Watson made news by beating human contestants on the popular Jeopardy! television show more than two years ago, the commercial viability of the super-computer, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, has only recently gained traction. In November 2013, for example, Fluid, a digital shopping company, introduced its "Expert Personal Shopper" application, which incorporates consumer information to become smarter with each interaction and operates as a knowledgeable sales associate in the palm of a shopper's hand.Continue reading...

executive decision

Microsoft Elevates Nadella to CEO with a Mandate to Drive Innovation

Posted by Dale Buss on February 4, 2014 02:57 PM

Microsoft confirmed today that the right person was in-house all along as it named Satya Nadella its new CEO, succeeding Steve Ballmer to become only the third Chief Executive in the company's history along with founder Bill Gates.

With his name only recently being tossed into the race that was rumored to attract such external candidates as Ford CEO Alan Mulally and other notable front-runner Sundar Pichai, a Google exec, Nadella assumes the top role of what once was the definitive technology bellwether.

Pundits and analysts were quick to outline the many challenges that face the 22-year Microsoft veteran in his new role, including the "most pressing" question of "whether or not Microsoft still wants to be an arbiter of technology," Bloomberg Businessweek said, arguing that, "in many ways, Google has become the company Microsoft always hoped to."Continue reading...

executive decision

Could Microsoft's Enterprise Chief Lead Company to Mobile Greatness?

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 31, 2014 02:53 PM

It's been nearly six months since Microsoft launched its CEO search and announced that Steve Ballmer would be stepping down. And while months of rumors have led industry analyts to mull who might fill the seat, from Ford CEO Alan Mulally to Ericsson's CEO Hans Vestberg, it seems a candidate has finally been confirmed. 

According to reports, Satya Nadella, who leads Microsoft's cloud and enterprise group, is now the internal frontrunner, with a possible announcement coming in early February, according to Re/code. That doesn't mean that Nadella is the only remaining candidate, however. According to reporting (that's been disputed) by SiliconANGLE, Google SVP of Chrome and Apps, Sundar Pichai, is still being wooed by Microsoft's board.Continue reading...

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