Friday, July 07, 2006

A Yellow Card for Microsoft

The most amusing—and frustrating—part of watching the World Cup soccer matches is the way the players game the refs.

Two guys go up for the ball and invariably the guy who doesn’t get it collapses on the turf, rolls a few times while clutching some part of his body and screaming in pain, his face a contorted mask of agony that bespeaks a ripped tendon, a fibula snapped abruptly in two, or, at the very least, a painful gouge that has ripped out an eyeball and left it dangling from the socket.

The ref acts like he’s never seen a fake before: he blows the whistle and whips out the yellow card and holds it there like a proud first-grader showing his first report card to his grandparents.

Meanwhile, the chump who just got carded makes a face and pulls his sweaty hair out...while the player with the broken fibula gets slowly up on his feet, stretches once and then starts running downfield in about as much apparent pain and agony as the Road-Runner when he decides he’s had enough messing around with Wile E. Coyote and shoots off down the highway in a blur.

The fans get it—they either cheer or roar disapproval, depending on their team. The announcers—I watch the games on Spanish TV because the ESPN coverage is so lame—actually laugh. And the camera invariably lingers on the coach of the Wile E. Coyote team, who shakes his head in disgust and flicks the back of his hand off his chin at the ref.

During the Portugal-France match, one replay showed the Portuguese guy actually a good six inches from making contact with anybody when he flopped down, rolled over, drew the penalty and got up ready for the kick.

Now, this is not meant to be a slur on the Portugal team or their individual ethnicity, nor is it meant to be a commentary on the inherent athletic abilities a player for Portugal might or might not possess: as a
nybody who's watched the World Cup knows, the Italians are the best actors, hands down.

Based on the first 117 minutes of their match against Germany, before they finally decided to concentrate on passing and scoring rather than fake broken-leg-rolls and eyeball-gouges, the Italian players actually spend more time in practice working on fake-broken-leg-rolling and eyeball-gouges than, say, passing and shooting.

(Not to say the American team deserved getting any further than it got—how we tied Italy, even with Italy kindly scoring our only goal of the tournament for us, is still beyond me.)

All this is by way of saying that yesterday’s blockbuster news report that Microsoft is planning an "iPod-Killer" device with wireless downloading capabilities in time for the upcoming holiday season is about as realistic as the approximately 620 broken fibula suffered by the Italian front line in its match against Germany.

Now, I know nothing about Microsoft’s actual plans for this so-called iPod-Killer. Nobody from Redmond bothered to brief me on either the technical details or the impending Congressional legislation that will force all consumers ages 16 to 60 to buy it even though it will be the size and weight of an espresso machine in order to accommodate the CD-player, tape-machine and stereo turntable that have been designed in so as to make it fully compatible with all previous versions of the Microsoft Music Operating System Version 2.803 Model Train Enthusiast Upgrade Pack.

So if you’re looking for any insight into the technology issues or software issues or wireless music download issues involved in the thing—you’re reading the wrong guy.

But I do know a little about retail, and how stuff gets from the manufacturer to the store shelf, and by my calendar, it is early July.

That means the “holiday season” for which this "iPod Killer" supposedly will be ready starts in earnest immediately after Labor Day—less than 60 days from now.

Which, with all the logistical and marketing and packaging and quality assurance issues that need to be resolved before any product can get from press release to store shelf, means that unless Microsoft is ready to ship the finished product, oh, a month ago, there is no chance that Microsoft will be selling any such a concept in time for Christmas.

In the meantime, though, like one of those Italian players screaming and rolling and waving to convince the ref that something happened, Microsoft is doing its best to make it seem like something’s really happening in the battle for the next generation music player. So I’m giving a yellow card…to Microsoft.

Next penalty, they’re gone for good.

Jeff Matthews
I Am Not Making This Up

© 2006 Jeff Matthews

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews' recommendations. This commentary in no way constitutes a solicitation of business or investment advice. It is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.


Effern said...

Astute observers will also note that "flopping fish" also get yellow carded for being fakers. It doesn't happen as often as we'd like, but it does happen. Some of this calf-clutching is amusing considering these guys are wearing shin guards. But check out some of the scrapes some of these guys get from the cleats - often unaccompanied by cards of any color.

Alexis Dodin said...

Hi there Jeff,
while I cannot agree with you more re. Microsoft's ineptness, I'm afraid the Spanish comments during the World Cup semifinal between France and Portugal might have gotten you confused. The theatrical dive you're referring to was indeed the act of a Portuguese player, Christiano Ronaldo, but it thankfully did not get him a penalty. Said penalty was obtained by the French, and deservedly so.
But that still won't help Microsoft....

k9thunder said...

Another money losing misadventure in making…

Creative has been under pressure and deep in red, Iriver once praised by Billg at CES last year has been in red and Rio the pioneer after years of red pulled out completely. In addition the market is saturated as just about everybody has MP3 player. So why get in the game so late even with gimmicky wifi enabled me-too-MP3 player? Why threaten hardware partners?

Expect another FLOP as MS had terrible history of hardware ventures with the exception of mouse and keyboards which is losing market share to Logi. Want proof?
Here are the examples MS doesn’t want you to remember:

1. LCD remote for TV and stereos - Expensive FLOP and you can guess who’s the leader in the remote market - Logi’s smart acquisition of Harmony.

2. PC speaker - Expensive and you can guess who’s the leader in the PC speaker market - Logi's Labtec division.

3. Barney, Arthur and Teletubbies - REAL JOKE. Talking toys. REAL FLOP and something MS would want everyone to forget about.

4. 900 Mhz phone with answering machine tied to PC - Another expensive FLOP with painful to use answering machine software.

5. Wifi routers - Bailed out after 2 years as couldn’t compete with the big boys.

6. Gaming joystick, wheels, controllers - Bailed out and couldn’t even sell the IP to anyone. Guess who’s the leader - Logi.

7. Web cam - This almost made to market but got pulled out last minute. Guess who’s the leader - Logi.

8. Photoviewer - Hard to believe but used FLOPPY and FLOP at that not to mention lousy hardware.

9. Dick Tracy watch - MSN venture and of course big FLOP.

10. Soundcard - It was 1 of the first PC soundcard but long gone.

11. Xbox - Hardly a success. Let’s see how much did MS lose on it to date?

MightBWrong said...

You might also want to look at Sony for a product that pretty much fits what Billy is talking about. the PSP - plays movies, games, music (MP3), surfs the web via WiFi...and while I think it's great - it's not killing the iPOD.

medford1 said...

Jeff, I am not trying to hi-jack your blog so feel free not to respond or post this comment.

This is my final, quixotic effort to have you acknowledge the difference between 'illegal immigrant' and 'immigrant'. Not sure what agenda you have in promoting illegal immigration. I know you know the difference, and honestly I can only think of less than honorable motives (i.e.. personal gain from their exploitation, white guilt), I don't know you, however so I'll pass on divining what motivates you in advocating such an obviously socially destructive phenomena.

You do seem fixated on the notion that whites won't do the work the poor brown people will do. Setting aside the argument of whether this is true or not, it certainly doesn't explain why they need to be here illegally. You also seem focused on some brown skin/white skin issue. While you might find fringe voices advocating that all brown skinned people should go home, it again doesn't explain why you want brown skinned people here illegally. In fact, it would be easy to surmise racism in your position that brown skinned people should be second class (undocumented, illegal) citizens in America and do menial tasks that whites won't do. Again, I don't know you so I simply don't know.

My own motive in pursuing this debate is simply that immigration is a central component of American exceptionalism. I want immigration to continue to be a source of strength for America, and a positive for citizens and immigrants alike. While our current legal structure for immigration may need to change, advocating illegal immigration doesn't help anyone.

caveatBettor said...

now that 50 million iPods have been bought already, how many consumers are holding out for the Killer? maybe Ballmer's kids is about it.

FGT said...

The US did score a goal in the world cup; Clint Dempsey scored in the game against Ghana.