Thursday, 29 July 2010

Microsoft and Safaricom- a comparison

Was thinking about these two companies which have become giants in their respective fields over the years and I noticed there are some similarities between the two that go beyond their dominance. So please take a few min to look at my observations.

We begin at the top of the two companies. Both have been driven by leaders who are similar in some ways, Microsoft had Bill Gates as it's founding president and Safaricom Michael Joseph also known as MJ. They're both said to be bullies and driven by results and another vital element is their vision. Gates' vision was to have a computer on every desk and MJ's driving force was to take communication to the people. Largely both companies have succeeded in that and most importantly their strategy was to go for the common consumer while their competitors went for the niche markets- Apple in the case of MS decided to keep their architecture locked up while Kencell went for the high end of the market. So by catering to the masses they achieved their now dominant positions.

Another similarity os found in their early days. When MS- DOS was chosen as the operating sytem for the IBM Personal computer in 1981 they hit the jackpot. This was probably the event that propelled them to the great heights they enjoy today. In essence they piggy- backed on a bigger company and that enabled them to support the other clone makers too. Safaricom on the other hand were also part of Telkom Kenya and had the luxury of using their infrastructure as they were setting up.

Another thing that I've also touched on a bit is their competitors. Apple produced the Macintosh which was generally considered to be technically superior and had a better interface but had the disadvantage of being more costly. Therefore the average computer user stuck to the good old black and white interface of DOS. Closer to home Kencell too had a more reliable and congestion free network but they also suffered the same disadvantage of cost as Apple did and the masses flocked to Safaricom.

The public relations and marketing of the 2 companies is also similar. MS may not have created the graphical user interface but they popularised it as they did word processing with Word, spreadsheets with excel and presentations with powerpoint. They were alble to package and market the products in a format that was acceptable to everybody. Safaricom too were not the first network to offer for example internet services or airtime transfer but with innovative products with catchy names like bambanet and sambaza they endeared themselves to the Kenyan people.

As far as accusations go they have been 'guilty' of similar crimes. Microsoft have been for a long time accused of monopolistic practices by using their market dominance to undercut the competition. A good example was the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows which led to Netscape's demise. Safaricom have also had their fair share of problems being accused of locking their subscribers in with tariffs that discourage off net calls.

Interesting coincidences can you think of any more?

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