Bangalore: Microsoft Corp. has rediscovered its character as a consumer company and focused single-mindedly on this segment of the market, going by the launches in the last 12 months by the world’s biggest software company by revenue.
Rishi Srivastava, consumer and online marketing officer of Microsoft India, says the launches of the Windows 7 operating system (OS), Internet Explorer 8, the Bing search engine and Windows Mobile 6.5 (for smartphones) have met with considerable success.
While Microsoft does not disclose country-specific numbers, industry magazine Dataquest estimates it earned around Rs3,067 crore in revenue for 2008-09.
In an interview, Srivastava spoke about how Microsoft is preparing to meet competition in the smartphone, online and personal computer (PC) markets. Edited excerpts:
Has the Windows 7 roll-out been smooth?
On 22 October—the day we launched—around 1,000 enterprises in India rolled out its implementation. Compared with any of our past OSes—Windows 98, Windows 2000, XP or Vista— the roll-out in the case of Windows 7 has been the fastest. Within two months of the launch, more than 2,000 enterprises have rolled out Windows 7. The response from the consumer segment has been extremely positive.
The spate of launches we have had in the last 12 months—be it in the browser, search space, mobile software or the operating platform—has allowed us to rediscover our DNA as a consumer company. As the PC, phone and the Web integrate to provide a digital lifestyle, Microsoft is placed best to take advantage and drive this convergence.
Successful launches: Microsoft India’s Rishi Srivastava. Hemant Mishra / Mint
Windows Mobile 6.5 is seen as a cosmetic iteration to its predecessor 6.1. Where is Microsoft positioning itself in this market?
We launched Windows Mobile 6.5 on 7 October, and it is a significant step up from our earlier offering and goes a long way in meeting evolving consumer expectations. For the last 13 consecutive quarters, we have grown our market share for Windows phones in India, according to IDC (International Data Corp.). Both in terms of installed base and market share, we are three-four times of our competitors like RIM (Research in Motion Ltd, which makes the BlackBerry phone) or Apple (Apple Inc., which makes the iPhone) in India. The value proposition we offer is compelling. Can we do better? Of course. We are already working on Windows Mobile 7.0, though there is no release date I can share.
Will Microsoft have a phone that bundles hardware and software? There has been some talk of Microsoft phones named Pure and Turtle being tested under Project Pink.
I can’t comment on that. As of now, we continue to work with our partners to win greater market share for Windows Mobile 6.5. In India, the market for smartphones is around five million a year and growing... We want to get a bigger piece of the pie.
The action on the online front?
India has an online user base of anything between 40 million and 50 million, depending on the data source. We have positioned Bing as a decision-making engine rather than a mere search engine which throws up pages of blue links that are not useful. In India, Bing has been received well. Bing’s market share in India is at 14.81% (according to ViziSense, the online user measurement service from Komli Media India Pvt. Ltd), which is higher than the 10.3% comScore (comScore Inc.) says it enjoys in the US.
After initial momentum with Hotmail, you lost the plot with Google Inc.’s Gmail gaining traction...
From a branding point of view, we could have done a better job... However, Hotmail is hot again. The product has been refined and is better. Unlike some of the competition, we don’t scan the subject of your mails and serve up ads based on that. We filter spam more effectively, and we take privacy and security issues very seriously.
Even on the browser front, being the market leader, we have had lesser outages due to security concerns compared with competitors like Firefox.