Ex-BT CTO and futurist Peter Cochrane believes Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia could be "like bolting two sinking ships together" as he urged the company to rethink its "gaudy and horrible" branding strategies.
Following up his Computing exclusive last year that Microsoft "will be dead and gone" in just a few years due to its single OS strategy, Cochrane now believes that CEO Steve Ballmer's decision to step down "might help" the company to reach its potential, but only if it get its "leading edge stuff" to market in such a way that people take notice.
"Microsoft along with Intel and Cisco, really didn't get the mobile revolution early enough - they failed to get in," Cochrane told Computing.
"[Meanwhile], a lot of the people that Apple are now recruiting are established incrementalists. Apple will not stay number one company in the world if it goes for incrementalism."
But the most pressing issue for Microsoft, believes Cochrane, is getting what he calls "a bunch of nice stuff" in Microsoft's mobile offerings to market so that it can start riding the consumerisation zeitgeist.
"Nokia and Microsoft is interesting," reflected Cochrane. "That could be like bolting two sinking ships together in the hope that they sink slower. [But] I hope it works, because they're both good companies that have got in trouble. There's a lot of tech companies in trouble now, and why has this happened? Because this stuff is no longer technology; it's fashion. Subject to whim; it's like putting a tick on a t-shirt and selling it for a lot of money."
Cochrane described Microsoft's current marketing strategy, which included erecting a giant Surface 2 in London's Trafalgar Square yesterday, as "awful".
"I mean, look at the packaging: Apple, you get a box - white, with a nice symbol on, and it's a nice quality box that smells nice, looks nice and it feels nice, you open it up and excitement drops onto your desk.
"In comparison," said Cochrane, "you get the Microsoft box and it looks like a bloody Cornflake packet. It's all gaudy and horrible and there's so many words you can't figure out what's in the box. If it's Apple, you don't care what's in the box, you just know it's going to be great."