Rushing To Be First

Steve Ballmer announcing the HP Slate tablet computer in 2010

Yesterday, Microsoft announced an AI-powered Bing search and Edge browser. This announcement happened in the context of a tech world currently whipping itself into a frenzy about all things AI.

This move by Microsoft feels rushed, similar to their rush to upstage Apple’s iPad announcement with their own debut of the HP Slate tablet computer in 2010. On stage, Steve Ballmer had the smug face of a man who knew he had beaten his competitor to the punch with better product in a new category of computers.

In reality, the Slate turned out to be a turd. It was simply a touchscreen tablet running Windows 7. It never made any traction and the iPad went on to be a significant product in Apple’s lineup. Microsoft eventually came back in late 2012 with the Surface RT tablet, which was subsequently discontinued the following year. Microsoft currently has a mild success with their Surface computers, but they represent a tiny fraction of the market compared to the iPad and Android tablets.

So the point of this post is to say, be vigilant about your competition, but don’t rush something out the door that’s not ready.

Sure, “perfect is the enemy of good”, but shitty is the enemy of everyone.