SmoothSpan Blog

For Executives, Entrepreneurs, and other Digerati who need to know about SaaS and Web 2.0.

Microsoft to Adopt Asymmetric Marketing to Keep Up With SaaS

Posted by Bob Warfield on September 14, 2007

I’ve always liked Joe Bentzel’s concept of “Asymmetric Marketing” as reported in his Redmondista! blog.  He recently gave a pretty good definition of the idea:

Asymmetric Marketing is when an “ISV creatively coopts the market momentum of an incumbent market superpower in order to accelerate its own success.

The young Microsoft did this with IBM in PCs. The young Google did this with Yahoo in sponsored search. The young Adobe did this with Apple in desktop publishing. The young Oracle did this with Digital Equipment Corporation in relational databases.”

It’s an elegant business jiu jitsu move that uses your opponent’s strength as your biggest advantage.  Imagine my surprise when I read Joe’s recommendation that Microsoft turn a Vista failure into a strength by suggesting that their auto-update feature is like SaaS only even better.  It sure sounds like Joe thinks Microsoft needs to employ some asymmetric marketing to keep up with SaaS which is otherwise a scary prospect for the company.

I write this only slightly tongue in cheek.  BTW, auto-update is cool, but it takes a lot more services than that to put Microsoft into a position to really deliver SaaS.  The unfortunate part about it all is that the steps they’d need to take invalidate years and billions of dollars of investment in creating their operating system monopoly.  Still, I won’t bet against the ‘Soft.  Maybe they can try Asymmetric Marketing.  When the big guy uses it on the little guys, it sounds suspiciously like Microsoft’s well-known Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish strategy.  Maybe the ‘Soft is still a Redmondista after all!

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