A conversation with Microsoft's David Webster - Microsoft Update

Microsoft update: David Webster, Microsoft's marketing strategist since 2001, had quite a busy year in 2009, trying to convince the world that Windows 7 was Microsoft's idea and finding the perfect name for their latest search engine, Bing.

Microsoft's chief marketing strategist doesn't foresee much time to rest this year - all Webster has to do is persuade consumers that Office is cool, that Mom and Dad need their own Xbox, and that a Windows Phone 7 Series phone can be a credible alternative to the iPhone. Luckily, Microsoft is willing to spend a few bucks to do all that.

Microsoft plans to continue using the voice of customers to speak for the company. Webster said that Apple created a great opportunity for Microsoft when it turned Windows into the stodgy PC guy played by John Hodgman. "Ultimately they made the choice to anthropomorphous the hardware platform to a human being," Webster said. "In so doing they are making a statement about our customers, not just our products. I think a lot of the work that we do really does do a nice job of taking that back and saying 'we're proud of who our customers are as they are proud of us.'"

One of the challenges for Webster and his team is that Microsoft's marketing dollars are split between categories where it is the 800-pound gorilla--like Windows and Office--and those where it is the upstart, such as Bing and Windows Phone 7 Series. Although it is nice to be the leader, Webster says that products like Bing give the company more of a chance to experiment with new types of advertising.

On the Windows Phone 7 Series front, Webster notes that Microsoft has a challenge in going up against Apple, which is both the market leader and spends a fortune on its advertising for the iPhone. But he said, the big brands--Apple, BlackBerry, and Android--have kind of established their niche in the smartphone market.

Webster said he initially came up with "Bang." The name had a few things going for it, he noted. "It's there, it's an exclamation point," he said. "It's the opposite of a question mark." But somehow it didn't work as well when used as a verb. "Oh, I banged it' is very different than 'I binged it'," he said.>/p>

Microsoft update: An interview with Microsoft's marketing strategist

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