Microsoft is buying its way into mobile relevance

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Under Satya Nadella we have seen any hubris which Microsoft has ever harboured disappear, and a much more humble and humbled company emerge.

Whether this stance is appropriate for a company with a near $400 billion market cap is debatable but the start-up mind-set has certainly seen Microsoft emerge as a more dynamic company, especially when it comes to acquiring other companies.

In the last 6 months Microsoft has made some significant acquisitions, including Mojang (Minecraft), Acompli (now Outlook Mail), Sunrise (now Outlook Calendar) and is rumoured to have purchased Wunderlist.

The one common feature besides a productivity focus for all these apps is that they are much loved and have the majority of their users on non-Microsoft platforms. Under Microsoft’s stewardship the apps have only continued to get better, which has helped Microsoft retain and even grow users.  By their acquisition Microsoft has been able to expand their territory into enemy grounds and brought non-traditional Microsoft users into their fold.

Unlike previously, Microsoft is not trying to aggressively move those users to their own platforms, such as Windows or Windows Phone.  Instead Microsoft is happy to quietly take ownership of their existing experience while leaving the boring work of developing and maintaining a platform to Apple and Google. If these people become Windows users in the future, that is fine, but with Microsoft giving the operating system away for free that’s not really the business plan any more.

Over the last 6 months we are witnessing Microsoft attempting to escape their own burning platform, and so far it seems to be doing this rather successfully. With nearly $100 billion cash in the bank, it remains to be seen if the company can buy their way back into the hearts of mobile computers, but by buying the top apps in major categories they are certainly off to a good start.

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