This week witnessed the announcements of Microsoft purchasing LinkedIn. I could not but think of this in the context of a post I have written a while back in 2013 talking about Levelling the playing field, Google Vs Microsoft
I must admit, I did not see this coming. I actually thought LinkedIn was doing well, regardless of the financials, and saw in its alliance with SlideShare and Lynda.com a sign that it is already established as a professional network that can maintain itself. The issue with the digital stratosphere & the revolving social media market is the constant need to be perceived as innovative. On top of that, the networks need to remain profitable to their stake holders and that what actually drives the levelling of the playing field.
I will use my favourite SWOT analysis triangle and list the good, the bad, and the ugly of this move.
The possibilities of integrating with Microsoft Office are endless and if I am to list one thing, I would say it will expand the collaboration under a platform like SharePoint beyond the internal company to extend to group members on LinkedIn or connections. The open platform and the well established API of LinkedIn should make that possible but Microsoft can also rebuild the entire platform if the integration proved to be a challenge, which would not be for one of the main software development power houses.
No one likes a monopoly where few players exist and control services offered. LinkedIn has been promoting a large set of business services following the path of other social media networks such as Facebook, SnapChat, and Twitter. The movement of sponsored social posts and paid services means that more will fall into the Microsoft pot.
Without looking at numbers, I think Microsoft business model was always successful. Technology and software is how everything is moving and they can remain profitable with the products they have. I personally think the acquisition is just a way to fill a gap and compensate for the fact that they were never really part of the social media movement. Google still have G+ and Facebook is fighting the odds. So, it is natural for Microsoft to go for a social channel and I think they picked the best if they want their brand to have a more professional and business focused character vs the funky and innovative persona that seems to be what Apple strives for.
LinkedIn loses its edge. The status of Microsoft’s mobile market comes to mind with the fact that it never picked up and they remained a spectator to the rise of Apple and Android phones. Having purchased Nokia to boost their presence in this market, and yet failed to meet their own expectations. I have read recently that they are not spending more on the hardware platform and Nokia might just fall back following the path of Blackberry and Palm as they got buried by HP.
I hope LinkedIn 500+ million users stay true to it and no matter what; it survives the Microsoft tide.
So, who’s next
I have to remain true to my original prediction and vote for Twitter to be the next in line. But who is there to take on Twitter? Facebook has survived the attempt from Microsoft a while back, so maybe they want to be a unique new power house and take the third piece of the puzzle since Google is still holding on to G+. But yet again; Apple might be interested. There was a recent discussion on how they can remain profitable beyond selling a new iPhone every year or so. The business model is to evolve into a paid upgrade service that allows people to use their phone and upgrade it provided they pay a subscription fee. The hardware upgrade would still require new purchases, but the frequently will for sure drop as they would struggle to bring a point of parity between models.
So who do you think is next?
*** Featured image curtsy of Investors.com