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An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

Is Your Business Customer-Centric Or Competitor-Centric?
By Paul Tomori
Monday, September 21, 2009 at 10:06:01 (EDT)

I recently stumbled upon a couple of "really incredible" videos. One demonstrates Apple's customer-centric perspective. The other demonstrates Microsoft's competitor-centric perspective. Granted, the Microsoft talk was given to analysts and the Apple talk was delivered to general media. However, I think the words used by each company are strongly indicative of their raison d'etre.

Apple focusses on building great products.

Microsoft focusses on building market share.

My only comments about Microsoft and Apple are this... I can't stand Microsoft products (seriously, do you enjoy frequent crashes, security bugs, a terrible user-interface and hardware compatibility issues??). I have been a Mac convert for a couple of years now. All new computers and software purchased by my company have lined the pockets of Apple, not Microsoft. Apple knows how to make a compelling product for the customer (i.e. like me), and I don't give a hoot about Microsoft's pursuit of "market share"... and I don't think any customer is ever compelled by any company's pursuit of market share when they make their buying decisions.

For my own company, we have adopted a "customer-centric" focus. We realized some time ago that setting our agenda by what the competition does would just make us followers. When you follow the competition, your future vision is nil. You only know what your immediate next step is, because your immediate next step is defined by what the competition has just pulled off. By contrast, when you are customer-centric, you are concerned about what your CUSTOMER will need 1 year from now, 2 years from now, 5 years from now... and so on. That perspective REALLY expands your vision and allows you to pursue things looking more than just one step ahead. Part of my inspiration has been Apple. Right now, their focus is on creating great new products for 2010... 2011... and 2014. Meanwhile, Microsoft seems to be spinning its wheels relentlessly focussed on trying to "win market-share". Perhaps that is one of the reasons their share-price has been so flat for almost 10 years while Google came out of nowhere to overtake Microsoft as the internet leader and while Apple has nibbled incessantly at Microsoft's dominant market-share by just providing good old-fashioned great service/product. It's ironic that Microsoft is destined to lose, not gain market-share by making market-share their primary focus. That's my humble opinion anyway. Apple and Google would have to make some major screw-ups to head-off the inevitable overtaking of Microsoft.

Market-share is nothing more than a short-term win. For example, have you ever heard of "Ben Franklin Retail Stores"? They had huge market-share, before Wal-Mart came along with a customer-centric viewpoint. No doubt you have heard of Wal-Mart.

Have a watch of these videos. These are only two minutes long each. Enjoy!

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