The Baconator

So I went to Cabin John Park in Rockville.

In the park was this Baconator machine.

It is a pig for collecting garbage (and not being a pig and trashing the park).

When you press the bottom on the upper right, the pig tells you what to put inside–paper, cardboard, and soft drink cans, but not bottles or broken glass.

The kids seemed really curious about it, but also were sort of scared of it–especially when it says, “I’m hungry, hungry, hungry!”

The Baconator will eat your refuse, but then who would want to eat the Baconator?

Plus as my niece used to say when she was very little, “Piggy isn’t kosher!” 😉

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

>Microsoft, Jerry Seinfeld, and Enterprise Architecture


ComputerWorld, 21 August 2008 reports on a news article in the Wall Street Journal that “Microsoft hires Seinfeld to bite Apple.”

“Continually painted by Apple and other rivals as uncool and unsafe, Microsoft plans to spend $300 million on a new series of advertisements designed around its ‘Windows Not Walls’ slogan that will feature Seinfeld and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.”

“Microsoft is not only trying to turn around a stodgy corporate image, but also wants to reverse recent product misfires, including the Windows Vista Operating System and the Zune digital music player.”

“Apple has rubbed in Microsoft’s lack of success and highlighted its own winning streak in a series of ‘Mac vs. PC’ ads.”

Is the Seinfeld ad a good branding strategy?

Well as my wife said, “this is as close as Microsoft can get to cool.”

Seinfeld, while rated by TV Guide in 2002 as one of the greatest TV programs of all times, is at this point somewhat dated—having aired nine seasons between 1989 and 1998—so it was over ten years ago! (Wikipedia)

In perspective, Seinfeld was already off the air before Vista, Zune, or the iPhone was ever created.

Microsoft’s attempt at reversing their “stodgy corporate image” is a feeble attempt that in fact solidifies that very image. It is no wonder that Microsoft is enamored with the 1990’s when they were the king of the hill in corporate America and in the technology arena with the launch of Microsoft Office in 1989 (the same year Seinfeld episode 1 aired) and before Google was founded in 1998 (the last season Seinfeld aired).

The Wall Street Journal, 21 August 2008, reported that “Microsoft is a little like the General Motors of technology. The software giant is, of course, much more successful, financially and in market share, than the troubled auto maker. But as at GM, Microsoft’s very size—over 90,000 employees—and it bureaucratic structure often make the company seem more stolid and less innovative than smaller, nimbler rivals like Google and Apple.”

From an enterprise architecture perspective where is Microsoft going wrong?

Microsoft is still living in the past—hence, the choice of the historic Jerry Seinfeld as their new image maker. Rather than acknowledging their current architecture and looking to the future or target architecture and how to transition forward, Microsoft keeps looking in the rearview mirror at where they were 10, 15, 20 years ago.

Microsoft keeps trying to catch up to the new generation of innovators like Google and Apple by either trying to acquire the 2nd tier competition like Yahoo or developing copycat products like the Zune.

More recently, Microsoft has tried to become more agile and take advantage of smaller groups to break their bureaucratic and cultural logjam. One example is Live Labs, “a small operation that aims to turn technology theories into real, Web-based products relatively quickly. It has only about 125 employees, and even that modest number is broken up into smaller teams tackling specific projects.”

Even if Live Labs succeeds, what are the other 89,875 employees at Microsoft doing?

To really compete in the future, Microsoft needs better planning and governance and this is what enterprise architecture can bring them—a forward looking and improved decision making framework.

>iPod Versus Zune and Enterprise Architecture

>Zune has been playing catch up with iPod in the music player business, but from an User-centric enterprise architecture standpoint, they’ve got it all wrong!

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), 14 November 2007 reports that Microsoft has retooled the Zune so that it “marks a vast improvement; however, it’s still no iPod.”

Where is Microsoft going wrong?

  1. An inferior product—“last year when Microsoft Corp. introduced its Zune music player to take on Apple’s iPod juggernaut, the software giant struck out. While the Zune had a good user interface, it was bigger and boxier, with clumsier controls, weaker battery life, and more complex software. Its companion online music store has a much smaller catalogue, a more complicated purchase process, and no videos for sale. And the Zune’s most innovative feature, built-in Wi-Fi networking, was nearly useless.” So much for competing on product quality!
  2. Underestimating the competition—Microsoft is “back with a second improved round of Zune’s…Apple hasn’t been standing still…the 80-gigabyte Classic, which costs the same as 80-gigabyte Zune, is slimmer than the Zune and has a flashy new interface, if a smaller screen. And the eight-gigabyte nano, which costs the same as the eight-gigabyte Zunem now plays videos and is much smaller—yet it has a larger screen. In addition, Apple has spiffed up its iTunes software…and Apple still trounces Microsoft in the selection of media it sells…more than six million songs, about double what the Zune marketplace offers, and dwarfs Microsoft’s selection of Podcasts and music videos as well.”

The WSJ concludes, “Microsoft has greatly improved the Zune hardware and software this time. But it seems to be competing with Apple’s last efforts, not its newest ones.”

In spite of these explanations, I think we’re missing something else here. If you compare the Microsoft desktop software to Apple’s, Microsoft also has a worse product, yet is the hands-down market leader. So why is Microsoft struggling with Zune?

Maybe functionality is part of the equation, but not the whole thing. It’s interesting to me that neither the article nor advertisements I see for Zune address anything about the interoperability of the product with Apple’s iTunes. Interoperability is not only a major enterprise architecture issue, but from a consumer standpoint, do you really expect people to dump their investment in their iTunes music library when they buy a Zune?

Looking at Yahoo Answers online, I see consumers share this concern:

“Can you use the iTunes’ software with the Microsoft Zune? I am torn between which to buy, if you can use itunes with the Zune then that’s the one I’ll get, but if you can’t then I’m getting an iPod, help me decide please.”

“Best Answer – Chosen by Voters

No you cannot. iTunes only works with the iPod, Zune is a completly different player made by Microsoft, it has its own music program and marketplace called the Zune Marketplace. The Zune Software can automatically copy songs that have not been purchased from iTunes (because ones that are have copy protection on them) and put them in the Zune Program.”

Until Microsoft acts as the architects par excellence that they are, and work out the all-important EA interoperability issues of its product, and communicates this with its customers, the Zune will continue to be second-rate, functionality notwithstanding.