Microsoft this week launched StartupCenter.com to offer advice and resources for entrepreneurs starting their own businesses.
According to Cindy Bates, general manager of U.S. Small Business at Microsoft, one million new businesses are started each year in the United States (including home-based businesses). Microsoft has brought together several partners, including FedEx, Bank of America and MasterCard, to reach these young businesses.
Microsoft already serves millions of small businesses in the United States with its Windows/Vista operating systems, Office desktop suite and Small Business Server. And Microsoft today offers a Website called the Small Business Center, which tends to focus more on technology information for established small businesses.
But this newest site appears to be part of a strategy by Microsoft to reach small businesses more broadly and deeply. For instance, this new site targets small businesses earlier in their life cycle before they may have established vendor loyalties. The purpose of the new site also goes beyond technology, where Microsoft has traditionally played, by providing resources about operations, finance and other business functions.
The breadth of this strategy becomes even clearer when you view it through the lens of two other Microsoft small business offerings. Microsoft’s Office Live, a set of online tools for small businesses to create websites and conduct more business online, has over 400,000 subscribers. And Microsoft’s Office Accounting Express 2007, a free accounting program designed for small businesses, has been downloaded more than one million times, Microsoft told me last week.
Over time Microsoft plans to add content to the Startup Center and offer additional features and resources including: additional partners; more site personalization; and a social networking element.
I went to check out the site and before I could do anything there I had to register to receive a some free stuff from Microsoft. So free stuff is good (kinda), but I want relevance and value before I signup for anything. It seems like Msoft continually proves that the really do not understand the web.
No single software vendor dominates the business software market for the small to medium businesses (SMBs). There are many vendors serving this market. This is in stark contrast to the same market for the large corporations. The market of large corporations is dominated by a handful of companies. This is especially so after the market consolidation initiated by Oracle.
In this blog, we discuss questions, issues surrounding the business software market for the SMB. Numerous questions come to mind:
What would it take for a software vendor to gain entry and dominate the lucarative market of business software for SMB?
What are the characteristics and demographics of the SMB market?
What are the functional needs of this SMB market?
What are the needs of a SMB owner?
What are the pain points for a SMB owner?
Which delivery model will be successful – desktop based, Saas, or something entirely different like the open source model?
Which vendors will gain prominence in this market?
What should be the game plan for new vendors entering this market?
Should the vendor have a solution per vertical or is it possible to provide a lowest common denominator solution?
Would the market segment be ever dominated by a few vendors or will it always be served by a fragmented set of vendors?
We invite small business owners, recognized SMB experts, and all others interested in the topic to participate and shed light on the dynamics of this multi-billion dollar market segment that is only beginning to gain prominence among the elite of the business software vendor community.
Pl visit http://www.amitnagar.blogspot.com