04/28/2014

Abandon Ship

Well Internet Explorer has lost face again this week, when the security firm, FireEye, discovered a major security flaw in Microsoft’s treasured web browser.

Let’s face it folks. Internet Explorer is a PR nightmare for Microsoft (I’ve been saying this for a long time). IE has been losing marketshare for 5 years (or more) and has been in brand recovery mode for the last 3. It isn’t working. Microsoft’s failure to produce a browser that can compete with Google is one of the reasons they are losing brand equity with the public. They are no longer seen as a company in touch with the world around them and if they want that perception to change they need a holistic strategy.

They are already making significant steps to figure out the mobile market, but their next step is to jettison their toxic brands, IE in particular. I’m not even sure if they should be in the market of browsers at the moment.

MS doesn’t want to look desperate either. If they launch a new browser now, it will still have the perception that it is just a new version of Internet Explorer, and it will fail at building the brand equity it needs to succeed.

MS has two options after it kills IE.

  1. Acquire a killer app. If IE can purchase a well respected brand that is killing it in UX and security, but is struggling to compete with Google and Mozilla. Building that brand would be their best (and fastest) option. The question is, who do they acquire? There isn’t much out there right now.
  2. Wait. MS will just include Firefox, or Chrome with their operating system in the meantime. They need the perception that whatever they launch is something brand new. Once the time has passed launch something disruptive. Learn from what Apple, Google and Mozilla have been doing and innovate. This will also mean staying ahead of the curve. They have to be lean and adjust requirement as they develop it so they will still be disruptive when it launches.

I know IE is integrated with Windows, and there are some things that Microsoft really can’t jettison from a technology perspective, and that’s fine, but Internet Explorer is a problem that can’t be fixed. Its long history of poor user experience prevents that. Microsoft needs to kill its darling.

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