Apple's brand up, Microsoft's brand down

Microsoft's brand is in serious decline, which may be a result of its tenacious clinging to the past.

A group of international marketers cites Apple and Google as two of the top-four brands that they "can't live without." Microsoft? "Microsoft is the top brand they wanted to argue with and also the top name they wanted to rebrand."

In a separate survey of 12,000 US business people, Microsoft's "brand power" dropped from number one in 1996 to number 59 in 2008. That precipitous drop doesn't bode well, obviously:

...[A] decline in and of itself is not indicative that a company is losing its mindshare or reputation among customers. However, what's significant in Microsoft's case is that the decline has been consistent over a number of years, and has plunged dramatically in a brief time. "When you see something decline with increasing velocity, it's a concern," [the CEO of the surveying company] said.

The article goes on to point out several possible reasons for the decline, but I think it's an inevitable result of hoarding past monopolies without building a future in tomorrow's most relevant markets: Web and mobile. Indeed, Microsoft's hoarding of the past is precisely what keeps it from branding the future. Apple's surging brand value is precisely related to its stakes in the future.

Which billions do you want, Microsoft? Yesterday's or tomorrow's? It seems you can't have both.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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