So if there’s any doubt that Microsoft has some issues when it comes to making a connection with consumers, a new post over at Business Insider (and picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle’s SFGate) pretty much sums up the problems in a nutshell.
The post, one of those page view boosting click-for-more jobs that Business Insider is famous for, is on the surface a pretty positive (the author, Jim Edwards, thinks “email search function is terrible”) review of Microsoft’s consumer email offering – pointing out the clean interface, the built in option for “Microsoft’s answer to Google Drive”, SkyDrive, and even the new look calendar.
The problem is, that apart from one mention of the name change to Outlook.com in the opening paragraphs…
When Google launched Gmail in 2004, Google offered more storage, larger attachment sizes and a search function that allowed you to look through your email without, you know, actually looking through it.
In the same period, Hotmail became a living example of the way the web can quickly create and then destroy hugely popular products: Microsoft took it through several rebrandings: as Microsoft Hotmail, Windows Live Hotmail, MSN Hotmail, and now Outlook.com. (Even though web users keep their Hotmail.com addresses.)
…the post, entitled “WATCH OUT, GMAIL: The New Hotmail Is Surprisingly Cool”, continually refers to “Hotmail” and “The New Hotmail”, but never again refers to Outlook.com. Even the link in the above paragraph, to a post outlining Microsoft’s plans to remove the “preview” tag from Outlook.com (or, as the post title says, to “kill Hotmail”) and switch everyone over by this summer, still refers to “Outlook” and not “Outlook.com”
Once, this latest post does refer to “Outlook/Hotmail” – close, but no cigar. You would think when you take the time to draw a giant red arrow toward the new name you might notice what it says:
(ok granted, it says Outlook and not Outlook.com, but still).
Now the problem here is certainly partly Business Insider’s fault for shoddy fact checking, or maybe just plain ignoring the new name and understanding that everyone still thinks of it as “Hotmail”, but as the earlier BI post above points out:
tonight* marks the start of a big marketing campaign from Microsoft to promote Outlook as the best email service you can use, touting features like social network integration and its ability to filter out messages you don’t want to read.
The ads will be everywhere: TV, print, and online.
* (the post ran on Feb 23, 2013)
As of this writing, the latest post has received some 26,000 views, 152 retweets, 40 Facebook likes, and even 3 Google +1s, but as yet no one has bothered to point out that it’s called Outlook.com and not Hotmail. Looks like there’s still some marketing work to do, and that’s just to get the name right.