What's in a Name?
I was just sitting outside today enjoying the sun next to an office park and noticed the Microsoft logo on a building not too far away. I began to reflect on the name Microsoft in a way that I had never really considered before. It just felt, well, old. The name pulls up, for me at least, a period in time when people talked about microchips and installed software that came on floppy disks. That's an unfortunate reality when Microsoft now wants you to think they are about apps and the cloud. But more than that, I just couldn't shake the idea of how corporate that name really feels.... and I guess that's ok. They are a classic B2B business and it's really that focus that has been their greatest strength (and perhaps their greatest weakness as they watched the consumer-oriented iPod, iPhone and iPad came to be the juggernauts of the tech world).
And since we're talking about Apple, it's amazing how they've grown, largely on the power of their consumer offerings. And that name: Apple—it's just so friendly. So easy. So simple. It really feels like a brand you can get to know. But now—now, Apple sees at hand the great opportunity that has eluded them so far, but that their ubiquity and financial might has now given them a chance—at the enterprise. The place that was once impossible for them to tread; because of price, because of platforms, because of lock-in, because of.... brand. Maybe that's why Apple needs this new IBM partnership as much as IBM needs Apple. After all, "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM"...
So now the world is upside down and Microsoft needs to convince the world they are as cool as Apple and Google. And Apple, on the other hand, wants to go corporate. For both companies, their incredible success, heritage and the power of their names might actually be the biggest thing holding them back.