For years, Apple has been the brand to beat, as consumers and businesses thought it could do nothing wrong and quality was its top attribute. But a new study by Forrester Research shows Microsoft has not only rebuilt is public brand affinity, it's knocked Apple out of the top spot for brand in the US.
Sport is the best way to describe Microsoft bashing. Since the launch of Windows Vista in 2006, the company founded by Bill Gates could do little right. Consumer products such as Zune were no match for Apple's iPod. Microsoft was way late to the smartphone and tablet markets, essentially ceding them to Apple and Google. And it's had little luck in search.
In fact, Microsoft's strongest products - Windows and Office - are under tremendous competitive pressure as consumers and businesses look for alternatives. Nearly all of Microsoft PC hardware manufacturer partners - HP, Dell Inc, Lenovo, Toshiba, Acer - are now selling rival Google products.
Moreover, an increasing number of solution providers are looking to expand their business with Microsoft rivals to diversify their supplier relationships. Many solution providers tell Channelnomics that Microsoft is just plain apathetic to complaints about product quality and channel programs.
Yet, despite all this, the Forrester study shows Microsoft has somehow, someway rebuilt its brand affinity.
"We were surprised by the results, too," said Forrester analyst Tracy Stokes.
The differentiator: user imperative.
While businesses and consumers still consider Apple to have fine products that are of high quality, they think Microsoft products are essential for their personal and professional needs.
The results of this study are encouraging and come as Microsoft shows signs its strategies in devices, cloud services and software are paying off. A year ago, many analysts and pundits were writing Redmond off, saying the company was melting into a has-been. Today, Microsoft is seen as a giant wakening to a new future. The Forrester study shows Microsoft is gaining market support, which bodes well for solution providers who need help selling and supporting Microsoft products.
For more US channel coverage from Channelnomics, visit Channelnomics.com
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