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Editorial

Brand power

Life is tough at the top, particularly when you are a monopoly. By definition, a monopoly does not need to frantically worry about the opposition because the market is yours for the keeping.

The flip side is a monopoly has more to lose, and we all know how paranoid Bill Gates is when it comes to the so-called competition.

What disturbs me the most about this week's lead story (page 1) is the fact that at the end of the day, Microsoft appears to think it is more important than its army of dealers in the channel.

Without its resellers, retailers, VARs and integrators, Microsoft would have to employ thousands of people to fill the holes left by people, who in Software Library's case, have built their business around the vendor.

Now we all know Microsoft has enough money to build its own channel, but that does not make business sense.

What's really at the core of the story is just how far should a company go to `protect' its corporate name and image.

Again, Microsoft theoretically has the most to lose when it comes to brand image, but years under the spectre of the DoJ and harsh media coverage apparently have not dented its reputation.

Steven Perkins, Software Library's managing director, summed up the problem perfectly: `If you own 35 per cent of the market, you support [the channel]. If you own 95 per cent of the market, you don't need to.'

At the end of the day, Microsoft knows it can do without Software Library. In fact, it can probably live without half of its loyal dealers and still manage to dominate the market due to the fact that alternatives such as StarOffice are still not being marketed properly (for tips on marketing see Tamara Plakalo's Public Relations feature, page 57).

It appears the `misuse' of the Microsoft name is more important than looking after a partnership with a company that is devoted to serving its bottom line.

If you check out www.microsoft.com\permission you will see just how strictly this vendor tries to police the use of its name, products and services.

But where is the consideration for partners?

For the majority of small resellers or dealers, their company name means almost nothing in the open market. What matters in their marketing material is whether they carry that magic `M' word.

The legal system certainly does not care about your partnership status when it comes to trade mark infringements. The power here lies with Microsoft's decision to use the law or not.

So I wonder if all its resellers will now have to use a line something like `we sell software made by a monopolistic vendor' to get around this problem?

Let me know what well-chosen words you are going to use to describe `that really big software maker' in your marketing. You probably have some other words to describe the company, but we promise not to print them.

Awards

I'm proud to announce Australian Reseller News did extremely well at the annual Australian Business Publishing Awards, held recently in Sydney.

ARN received a gong for the `best product information series of the year', and was a finalist in these categories: best magazine of the year and best specialist magazine of the year (for both ARN and ARN Integrator); best opinion segment of the year; business writer of the year; and best newcomer of the year for one of our star writers, Rebecca Munro.

Next year promises to be even better, so if you have any suggestions as to how we can improve, please drop me a line.

Mark Jones is editor of Australian Reseller News. Reach him at mark_jones@idg.com.au


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