There were a couple of announcements this week that really caught my attention: Wal-Mart’s Hannah Montana deal with Disney and Microsoft’s attempt to buy Yahoo!
Announcement #1: Hannah Wal-Martana
Let me start with a confession: I’m a Hannah Montana dad. What does that mean? Well, my daughter is hooked on Hannah and I’ve taken her to see the Hannah Montana concert as well as the Hannah Montana 3D movie of the concert. So I was very interested in the announcement that Wal-Mart struck a deal with Disney to become the “Hannah Montana Headquarters” for more than 140 Hannah Montana products.
My take: The move taps into the strengths of both companies: Disney’s characters and Wal-Mart’s distribution. And they’ve certainly found a frenzied market of pre-teen girls to go after. If I were Wal-Mart, I’d also be negotiating with Ganz to develop the same type of deal with Webkinz.
Announcement #2: Microhoo!
Microsoft bid $45 billion for Yahoo! which was struggling to figure out its future strategy. We still need to see if this goes through, since Yahoo! would probably prefer a different suiter. But it might be hard for investors to say no to a 60%+ premium over the stock price.
My take: On the surface, this is a bid for a big search engine. But underneath the surface, this is about Microsoft trying to protect itself from Google. What happens if/when Google starts offering comparable products to Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook — and integrates them into the power of the Web? One of the five disruptive customer experience strategies that I’ve discussed is ultrasimplification, which I describe as follows:
Companies often compete with each other by squeezing new features into their offerings. Over time, this process of “continuous enhancement” can lead to products and services with more capabilities than most customers need. So there’s an opportunity to develop a simplified version of existing offerings.
Think about how complex Microsoft’s products have become over the years!
The bottom line: It’s a win for Disney, Wal-Mart, and Yahoo! investors; a loss for Yahoo! management; and an escalation in the Microsoft-Google war.