Looking at the numbers

While we wait for Windows Live Spaces (dare I say it, any day now?), there's time to take a look at some interesting numbers that have surfaced this week. First, of course, comes Microsoft's 4th Qtr Earnings report. What the report tells us, more than just the negative earnings posted by MSN/Windows Live, is that MS is committed to Windows Live for the long haul, as Steve Ballmer told the Partners last week. Ballmer told the Partners that Windows Live wouldn't make money for at least another year, and the numbers proved that out this quarter. Earnings were negative because of increased investment (and also continued declining performance by MSN/Windows Live Search, which is disappointing). The switch to MSN AdCenter, as well as investment in Windows Live services, is going to take a while. There's something to be said for deep pockets.

Next, in an article on Yahoo's race with Google for services beyond Search – In the Race With Google, It's Consistency vs. 'Wow'(registration required), The New York Times posts a graphic that compares online services:

nytimes7-23 News   News source: NY Times (registration required)

While the article is interesting in that it dismisses MSN/Windows Live (along with AOL) as "losing share and plagued by strategic confusion", the US only numbers show MSN Spaces in a fairly solid position given that we've been waiting for WL Spaces for so long it's not funny, that Windows Live Local (Virtual Earth) doesn't even show up in the maps category, and also that Microsoft is playing this as a global game. In April, Comscore issued a press release showing MSN Messenger's much stronger worldwide numbers. And while we agree that theres a perception of confusion surrounding Windows Live, the marketing push for Windows Live has only just started. As usual, stay tuned.