How Open Innovation Saved the Microsoft Brand

by Clinton Bonner

How Open Innovation Saved the Microsoft Brand

Is this how you still see Microsoft?

5 years ago, what was your impression of Microsoft? Even if the impression didn’t match the reality of what the company was innovating, terms like antiquated, stagnant and dinosaur of technology were routinely tossed about to describe the software Goliath. But what about today? Fresh on the heels of an impressive update to their Xbox 360 platform, including a robust re-envisioning of Kinect – Mircrosoft’s motion-sensor gaming add-on – Microsoft has changed the way people view their brand.

Here is a snippet from a concise article featured on thenextweb.com describing Microsoft’s impressive update.

“Basically, Microsoft is putting all of its efforts into developing the Xbox 360 into more than a games machine; it wants users to perform web searches, enjoy TV shows and films and hopes to engage console owners with new, custom applications to bring all media content together in one place.”

But how did Microsoft get back to here? By here I mean, how did they get back to being viewed as innovative and unique? A place where their updates are pined over and articles like this wow and amaze. It wasn’t their huge strides in mobile, it wasn’t their Windows 8 videos revealing their impressive new hybrid PC/Tablet OS and I’m almost pretty sure it had nothing to do with my friend Scully’s old Zune. In fact, it wasn’t anything they built. Yes, it was built upon a piece of their equipment, but it wasn’t their actions, initially at least, that reinvented the Microsoft brand for the better.

Embracing the Open Innovation Hack

As soon as the Xbox 360 Kinect add-on was released in early November of last year it began to get hacked. Innovative hacks that took the Kinect technology and repurposed it in ways that had yet to be imagined began to spring up on YouTube and the world’s top technology & social blogs. Now Microsoft did have a choice, and this is a crucial point; they could have ignored this hack culture flourishing on their new device OR they could have embraced it and understood that this form of open innovation taking place on the Kinect platform was resoundingly good for their brand. Like a certain beloved silver-screen archaeologist, they chose wisely.

Watch this newest ad for Kinect that truly embraces the hack, Open Innovation culture.

The lesson here is evident. If Microsoft, a behemoth company perceived to be perpetually stuck in the innovative doldrums can reinvent their brand in one short year by embracing a culture of Open Innovation, then what can it do for you?

Related Read: Apple’s Siri Proxy Hack – The Beginning of the 3.0?

Image credit: windowsace.com


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Clinton BonnerClinton Bonner (@clintonbon) is a Marketing Manager at TopCoder – the world’s largest competitive community of software developers, algorithmists and digital creatives. Fun Job!!!

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