In a "dog bites man" story, and continuing my theme of dumping on Microsoft as of late, CNet reports on Microsoft's Live branding, rounding up a bunch of comments from analysts and some data from the recent quarter. The obvious upshot: the Live brand is going nowhere and hurting Microsoft in the search battle.
"Microsoft's Live branding has been tremendously confusing and has hurt the company, and it is very likely contributing to the situation they are in right now," said David Smith, an analyst at Gartner. "They've created another brand and have not differentiated it."
As I wrote last month, new MSN honcho Steve Berkowitz is not enamoured of the "Live" name, and I'd predict that the branding is not gonna stick past this year.
Another aspect that could be contributing to Microsoft's share decline is the different look and feel of Microsoft Live. The slate blue color scheme and non-Googly layout - what I call the "Neptune Morose" skin, might not be as cool as people think.
My sense is that the brand, the look and feel, and the lower relevancy are all hurting Microsoft's search efforts. Once you add in the biggest off-screen factor - Microsoft's inability to get any serious inventory deals done, you've got a real miserable failure on your hands.