Microsoft Copying Apple with Shift to Branded Shows? Marketing

By Joel Windels on January 25th 2012

As the biggest brand in technology for the past few decades, Microsoft have seen it all, done it all and achieved it all. Somehow though, Microsoft are often a few steps behind.

Whether it be their frankly embarrassing poor understanding of social media practices, or their repeated failed attempts at grabbing a decent share of the search engine market space, Microsoft often get it wrong for such a big company.

One such area that Microsoft have never quite perfected is the staging of conferences and events. There have been some successes and some failures, but Microsoft’s decision to drop out of future CES events speaks volumes for their intentions to host more Apple-like brand-led isolated events.

The awesomely fun and media-friendly party to celebrate the launch the original Xbox console went down a storm in all corners of the press, though the more recent ‘ponchogate’ Kinect launch keynote at E32010 was received far less favourably.

We used the Brandwatch social media monitoring tool to listen to what people thought of Microsoft’s last attempt at joining in with CES, and how well they fared with this event.

Microsoft’s CES Swansong

2012 was the last year in which Microsoft would be taking part in CES, despite being known for having one of the largest booths in previous years and being at the show for around 15 years.

The reason for their departure from the show is because the timing (January) does not coincide with their product development calendar.

They showed a number of gadgets and there was a keynote speech by CEO Steve Ballmer, in which he ran through (and demoed) the new products. The keynote speech also involved TV personality Ryan Seacrest and a choir singing tweets.

Conversation about Microsoft during CES took place mainly on blogs and news sites, as developments at the conference were reported.

The graph above shows conversation on Twitter on the 9th and 10th January, by hour.

We can see that there was a sharp increase in conversation at 3AM (7pm PST) which is the time at which Microsoft were making their keynote speech, showing that there was considerable interest in the address.

Generally, reaction was negative, with many complaining at the lack of ‘new’ announcements and the ‘odd’ style of presentation.

One particular cringe-worthy moment was when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was awkwardly ‘interviewed’ by TV host Ryan Seacrest.

The majority of conversation seemed to suggest that consumers were not bothered by Microsoft’s departure from the conference and understood why they had made this decision.

It seems like in so many of Microsoft’s other ventures, their attempt at staging a decent presence at their final CES showing was a mixed success. How well they will cope at their own custom events remains to be seen, but you can expect some dramatic failures as well as some awesome achievements. Watch this space!

Joel Windels


Joel is the VP Marketing at Wandera, the innovators in enterprise cloud services and security. He ran a marathon once, and has a wide range of Pokemon in his Pokedex.