When it comes to future plans for blockchain, Microsoft’s history means it knows what it’s like to stake a claim as the unquestioned market leader. The Seattle-based creator of software staples like Windows and Word dominated the computer market in the 1990s and early 2000s before the Apple revolution saw the company lose its cool factor in the iPhone era. Even so, with blockchain, there is a chance to begin again and Microsoft appears ready.
In 2018, under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has everything to play for. Just the third CEO in Microsoft’s 43-year history, Nadella took over from Steve Ballmer who stepped down in 2014. Since then he has driven a resurgence that has made brand Microsoft ‘cool’ again and saw his company double its stock price in just four years since he took the helm. today trading around $108 per share.
Among the software tech giants, Microsoft has the most diverse reach. It does not have the social media presence of Facebook or the market valuation of Apple, nor the search engine and portable device dominance of Google, but it’s the only one with a strong games console, search engine, and news media outlet.
The Whole Catalogue
That’s why the news of its progress into the blockchain sphere with Xbox (albeit for now, largely with the ‘unsexy’ DRM) has left many looking anew at the other offerings in Microsoft’s stable to see where the next push for blockchain will come,and to what extent the creator of the Surface tablet and owner of LinkedIn, SalesForce, and Github is set to pioneer a blockchain ecosystem.
The announcement of its recent partnership with Ernst & Young that would create one of the world’s biggest hubs for creative rights and royalty management can be seen as the first step into the ‘build it and they will come’ approach to driving blockchain enthusiasts into the arms of Microsoft.
Though Microsoft may be shifting towards a more comprehensive blockchain offering in the future, it would be a mistake to think it is all one-way traffic in support of emerging technology. After all, the shift to a technology with decentralization in its DNA is not going to be a seamless move for a business that built an empire on centralized control.
An Elephant in the Room
There’s also tough decisions that are right now off the table which Microsoft will need to revisit as it considers how to best utilize their immense firepower in gaining a market edge. Back in May, Microsoft announced they would follow on from the decisions taken by Google and Facebook to ban cryptocurrency advertisements from Bing’s search engine.
Like the other two tech giants, Microsoft took this move citing concern surrounding the risks that come with crypto’s lack of regulation. In absence of such regulation, the risk to consumers needs to be addressed.
This is sound, but just as Google and Facebook lament the lost revenue, so must Microsoft know a return of their ads in the time ahead would offer them a more comprehensive blockchain portal. If they are committed to growing an ecosystem that outpaces rivals, a break from the ranks in the ad space (or other areas) could be on the cards.