Valuing Brands

Microsoft is giving up the fight for the use of the name ‘SkyDrive’:

The name change comes more than six months after Microsoft was forced to rename SkyDrive following a trademark case with British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSkyB). Microsoft is positioning the new OneDrive naming as the one place for documents, photos, and other content. “Changing the name of a product as loved as SkyDrive wasn’t easy,” admits Microsoft’s Ryan Gavin. “We are excited about what is to come, and can’t wait to share more.”
Admittedly, OneDrive is a stronger name than SkyDrive, it’s just sad Microsoft has to be sued to arrive at great brand names.
This feels a lot like when Microsoft gave up on the use of ‘Metro’ for the name of the Windows 7/8 (and Phone) user interface design language.
I think what it comes down to is Microsoft doesn’t value any of it’s brands besides Windows and Office. Ballmer can do all the reorg-ing he wants to unify Microsoft, but changing what your values are is a completely different thing.
As I’ve said many times before, Microsoft is not a consumer electronics company (save for XBox). They could very well learn the skills necessary to sell to human beings, but all their success up until now has been from selling to corporations and corporate IT departments.
Can you imagine Apple giving up the rights to ‘iCloud’ or ‘iPad’ or any other brand they own? Apple understands the importance of brands beyond just being a name or a logo on a box. In the end a brand is what people say it is and all the associations they attach to it.
Microsoft still doesn’t get this. I’m not sure they ever will.
The Windows and Office brands mean everything to Microsoft, but it’s becoming clearer and clearer how little they mean to consumers. I think many people see ‘Microsoft’ and ‘Windows’ as synonymous, both inside and outside the company.
Contrast this with Apple. Depending on who you ask, Apple means iPod or iPad or iPhone or Macintosh. Or all of the above. Every one of those answers is right. Microsoft tried to dip its toes in the consumer electrics world with Zune but failed miserably. They’re trying again with their Surface tablets, but instead of starting fresh, they’re doubling down on Windows.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft decided to scrap the ‘Surface’ name as they prepare the next iteration of Windows.