Transcript: Microsoft CEO, Chromebox, and CVS

by Tim Wright

This is the transcript for The Dirt episode: “Transcript: Microsoft CEO, Chromebox, and CVS

Tim: Hello, and welcome to The Dirt. I am your host Tim Wright and today I’m here with Steve Hickey.

Steve: Good morning.

Tim: Mark Grambau.

Mark: Hey Tim.

Tim: And there’s a lot of really interesting news this week. I think there
was an unusually high amount of news this week.

Steve: A lot of shit went down.

Tim: It did.

Mark: A diverse set of topics that we’ve picked out for today’s show.

Tim: Yeah, so we picked out a few interesting ones. We’ll do the one
that’s interesting to me first because I’m speaking. The new
Microsoft CEO got named Satya Nadella, which I got that right.

Mark: I think you did.

Tim: They put up this interesting website, very nice design. They’re doing
some very nice design work. And there’s some intro videos
talking about him. He’s been with the company for 22 years. He
is amazingly well-spoken. All of us in this room cannot form
sentences as well as this man.

Steve: You mean like the combined brain power of the three of us is
just not anywhere near him?

Tim: If all of us together birthed a child…

Steve: Hold on.

Tim: And that kid could form sentences in some way, it would not be as
good as this guy.

Steve: Have you seen Alien Resurrection?

Tim: No.

Steve: There’s the point where there’s tanks of clones, and they’re
incredibly warped clones, but as they get closer to perfecting
it they’re less warped but they’re awful, twisted beings and
that’s what a child as the result of the three of us would look
like. Some awful, twisted, horrifying clone screaming.

Mark: Spoiler alert. Spoiler alert.

Steve: It’s been out for like, 16 years.

Mark: When would I ever want to see Alien Resurrection?

Tim: So what I like about this hire for Microsoft is Steve Ballmer is
officially… we know he’s been gone for a while and we all
loved that. We did a whole show on it. But this guy is so
enthusiastic. I don’t know if it’s just that he’s new to the job
and he has a lot of ideas or he’s just a genuinely enthusiastic
person, what I found is that he just takes random online
classes. Doesn’t finish them, but…

Steve: None of us do.

Tim: No, but I thought that was really cool. He seems super enthusiastic
about what he’s doing and I want to see what he does in the
future at Microsoft.

Mark: I think it signals a nice direction for the company. I think
he’s got buy off from the powers that be from above. Obviously
the board wants him there. Gates agreed to step down from being
the Chairman of the Board and is now going to have a more active
role in the day-to-day operations at Microsoft and product
development once again.

Nadella comes from Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group. He was the
Executive Vice President of that group, and if you look at
Microsoft and the things that they are doing right and the
things that have been least like the old Microsoft that needs to
sort of learn and get out of its old shape, the Server and this
kind of group is the group that is doing it. Their cloud
services Azure, is driving a lot of the cloud, and they could be
a real threat to… not threat to, but a competitor to AWS, to
Amazon services because we are in a potential future where
Amazon runs the cloud essentially. They have all the power, they
have the technology.

We love what they do and they make great services but it’s great to
have a counterpoint. So if Microsoft can move their company a
little more towards that and focus on enterprise, focus on
servers and Azure and such and maybe back up on the ways that
they missed of consumer technology right now in mobile and
tablet, they may be in a really nice direction.

Steve: How does this affect your gearing the market score for
Microsoft?

Tim: Well it doesn’t actually.

Mark: Well the founder is more involved again.

Tim: That’s true, he’s back with the company. So, maybe a little bit. It
should bump it up .5. I read an article about…

Steve: They’ve got the gearing the market bump. Microsoft is making
waves, they’re going places.

Tim: They are. I did read an article that Bill Gates’ first day back at
Microsoft he spent eight hours trying to install Windows 8.

Mark: I believe that was a satirical article.

Tim: No, that was true. I know a guy.

Mark: So what that was in reference to. There was an email that Gates
sent around that was leaked out in like 2003 or so where he is
just railing and lamenting. He wanted to install Windows Movie
Maker, and it meant like, go to the website, there’s no clear
things, goes to the downloads page, no clear way to download. He
stalks the engineers. They say, “we did not imagine the use case
where someone would go to the downloads page to download
something”. He then has to install Windows Update, this whole
thing. Goes to Add/Remove programs, still can’t find it. Has to
update DirectX. Whole long thing, and it’s like Bill Gates going
crazy over the usability. And of course this leaked out.
Everyone’s like, “oh my god, Bill Gates said this”. And he says,
“of course I sent that email! That’s my job.”

Steve: I am the CEO. My job is to call bullshit when my people do bad
work.

Mark: So I think this was a 2014 satirical reference to that whole
thing.

Tim: I thought that was interesting. Something else that came up recently
was Chrome are repurposing Chromebox into Chromebox for
Meetings.

Mark: Yeah.

Tim: And it’s basically if you’re not familiar, correct me if I’m wrong.
Mark read the article more closely than I did. But it’s
basically a packaging-up of Google’s free services into a really
nice put-together product.

Mark: With some additional hardware accessories to make them run.

Tim: And they’re running support on it also.

Steve: It seemed like you need to use the accessories that come with
the Chromebox, that there’s some specific hardware compatibility
built into that as opposed to like “oh, I already have a camera
and a speaker and a remote. I can’t just buy the Chromebox
itself.”

Tim: Yeah, they’re packaging up what, HD camera, a speaker, the Chromebox
itself…

Steve: And a remote.

Tim: And a remote control.

Mark: Yeah, so this is interesting. Chromebox was similar to
Chromebooks. It was a commodity hardware or specialized low-
power hardware running ChromeOS. As opposed to being a laptop,
it’s a desktop machine. It looks a little like a Mac Mini or
whatnot. I think it’s a limited market. I think the Chromebooks
have a larger market.

And this is a nice example of maybe Google, as we’ve talked about in
the past, moving towards better productizing things. Google for
a long time, they were a think tank. They were a giant research
company that just throws as much money and energy and talent and
engineering at inventing and rethinking the future, and the
thing that they’ve struggled with in a lot of cases is it
doesn’t always add up to a good product.

Tim: Yeah, I agree. I think what they do is they bring stuff to market
before anyone’s ready for it.

Mark: And they don’t know how to bring to market and they don’t know
how to tell the story around a product to make it compelling to
people. This is a story around an existing product. This is
taking something they already had, this Chromebox which is
manufactured by Asus. Is that what we…?

Tim: Asus. We’ll go to YouTube for the pronunciation.

Mark: Pretty interesting. They’re taking this existing thing but
they’re bundling it with the camera, the microphone, the remote
with the services and with the support and saying “okay, so
here’s the story you’re buying. Here is the product.” And I
think that’s an interesting move as we’re talking about Google
buying Nest and moving them more towards a productized company.

Steve: For what you’re getting, I know it’s probably actually a
reasonable price but it’s a psychologically high number,
especially for something that nobody has used or reviewed or
proven yet.

Tim: It’s a $1,000.

Steve: Plus a $250 yearly fee.

Tim: For service though, right?

Steve: I don’t know what it is. It just says it’s there. It doesn’t
really specify what it is.

Mark: If this is for a conference room system, you have to imagine
this is not for just Joe Schmoe. This is for corporations, this
is for companies.

Steve: Yeah. I’m sure we paid more for ours. It was like a secret
launch. Nobody knows if it’s any good.

Mark: Right, well I think you can assume this is good because we know
the hardware here and we know the services. It’s using Google
Hangouts, it’s using all these various technologies.

Steve: Sometimes Google’s services can be frustratingly bad at launch.

Mark: Oh yeah.

Steve: Unusable for weeks.

Tim: To this point, they have been free also. This is not a free product.

Steve: Chromecast was unusable for weeks. And I know it was only a $35
product but it just would not work for anything reasonable for
weeks, and they just flipped a switch overnight and all of a
sudden it was kind of good.

Tim: Semi-related, but not to this stuff, they did release an API for
Chromecast which is going to be awesome because you could do the
second-screen experience.

Steve: Nice.

Mark: Good times. Good times.

Tim: But yeah, so Chromebook. No Chromebox, sorry. I think it’s
interesting because they’re doing a packaged product of their
services that they already have which is neat because they’re
actually going to make non-ad revenue which is cool. And they’re
going after a more enterprise audience. It’s not for us, it’s
for companies.

Steve: It’s a different direction. I’m curious.

Tim: And I haven’t really seen them do that I don’t think. Off the top of
my head, maybe Google App Engine, but even that’s consumer level
and I think it’s free.

Mark: Didn’t that crash.

Tim: I don’t know.

Steve: I get the feeling it’s not around. I saw that somewhere.

Tim: It’s still around. I actually just got an email yesterday about
something. I deleted it because I don’t use it, but they’re like
“hey, this is App Engine. Remember us?”

Steve: Nope.

Mark: It’s easy to forget. Google does a lot of things. So speaking
of trying to refocus and thinking about your brand…

Tim: Here we go.

Mark: Did you like that segue?

Tim: Here we go.

Steve: There it is.

Mark: Really smooth.

Steve: You know when we point out the segues every time for the last
year, that we’re never going to get good at them.

Tim: We’ve been good about segues.

Mark: I had one good segue a couple weeks ago. It was a bad ass
segue. You can look back and it was fine, and if you can name
that segue…

Steve: No.

Mark: I’ll give you a prize. It’s almost like call us on Twitter.

Tim: I’ll let you punch Mark in the shoulder if you can find that segue.

Mark: I know technology. So there’s an article that at first glance
that at first glance may not seem related to UX but I thought it
was a really nice connection to UX that CVS, the CVS Caremark
Corporation has announced that they are no longer going to be
selling tobacco products, no longer going to be selling
cigarettes in their over 7000 stores.

Tim: Cigarettes, or tobacco products?

Steve: All tobacco products.

Mark: All tobacco products.

Tim: So no dip?

Steve: No dip. No cigarettes. No cigars. None of those stupid fucking
cancer sticks.

Tim: What about nicotine products? Did they say anything about nicotine?

Steve: I wonder if they would still sell nicotine patches…

Mark: Or e-Ciggs.

Steve: Since they’re sort of medicinal.

Tim: I think this is interesting. Well it’s not interesting, but the thing
that I can really root around and find interesting is one,
they’re not listening to their users because their users want
cigarettes. They’re dropping a lot of revenue.

Steve: Their users don’t know what’s good for them.

Tim: And they’re actively giving up two billion dollars a year, which is
good for them for taking a stand, whatever their mission
statement is.

Steve: They’re realigning with their mission. I’ve never thought of
CVS as more than anything than the place that’s open 24 hours
for me to buy Benadryl when all of a sudden I’m coughing all
night, but if their underlying goal is in fact to make people
healthy, no cigarettes is a really good way to help that goal.

Tim: We’re going to go from prescription drugs in another show.

Mark: Yeah, and frankly their revenues here. In 2012, CVS’ reported
revenue was 123.1 billion dollars.

Steve: Shit.

Mark: So we’re looking at under two percent of their revenue that
they’re foregoing. I think this is a really good story for UX in
that yeah, they’re not listening to their users but I think it’s
the right move. I don’t think you always should listen to your
users if your users are asking for something that is going to be
detrimental to themselves, to your brand, honestly if it’s
completely contradictory to the mission statement of your
company.

Steve: I almost feel like going into CVS on a daily basis now for the
next couple of months, just…

Tim: Buying up all the cigarettes?

Steve: No, just to see the freak out on the day they’re all gone.
Somebody will just flip their shit and I am enough of an asshole
to think it’s hilarious.

Mark: Or go to CVS to buy all of your Coca Cola in giant bottles and
all of your Cheetos.

Steve: Sure. That’s not great either but I don’t think they intend to
be whole foods here.

Tim: I think it’s a great PR move. They might actually make up that two
billion dollars in revenue because people just feel like “oh I’m
going to shop there now.” They’ll probably end up on top. I’m
sure they will. I’m sure they did the math. They wouldn’t do it
if it was going to lose them significant amounts of money.

Steve: Sometimes you do things even though you know you’re going lose
stupid amounts of money. There was an affiliate referral program
we ran at a company I used to work for and they eventually
ditched that even though it was making gobs of money because
after a while it became apparent with customer complaints that
this was bad.

Tim: This CVS thing kind of reminds me of, oh geez, must have been 10
years ago now where Tylenol or aspirin or one of those companies
had I think it was arsenic or something got into one of the
bottles and they pulled all the bottles off of the shelf in
every store because of it. And they could have just… they ran
the numbers and said just like “we let somebody die and we pay
them off, and it’s going to be cheaper than pulling everything
off the shelf”, but they didn’t. They pulled everything off the
shelf.

Steve: Because that’s a shitty thing to do.

Tim: They pulled everything off the shelf. They did the right thing

Mark: You turn a terrible PR story into a positive one because you
say “we are a health and wellness company and everyone stop
buying our stuff.” You’re falling on your own sword there a
little bit, but it worked out in the right.

Tim: When you do the right thing, at least over time I think it adds up to
positive result.

Steve: I really hate that the default sense of corporate morals in
this country allows us to argue whether it’s more cost-effective
to let somebody die. What the fuck?

Tim: That’s like that scene in Fight Club.

Steve: I know. But it’s not satire in this case.

Mark: I mean the important thing to remember is that at the end of
the day corporations are not people, but corporations are
comprised of people.

Steve: Not people, Mr. Romney.

Mark: But corporations are made of individuals who have to make these
choices and in the end if you’ve got the right people at the
top, and the right people with the right culture going through
it’s going to be obvious to say “hey, we’re going to lose two
percent of our revenues but we are going to stay closer to our
brand and be better for our customers and not sell things that
have a direct causal link to hundreds of thousands of deaths”,
then yeah, it’s time to stop.

Steve: Good on you, CVS.

Tim: We’re seeing more of these positive PR moves. I know Starbucks not
too long ago, the founder of Starbucks came out and said if
you’re not pro-gay marriage then you should sell the stock.

Steve: Oh God. I’m just imagining the apocalyptic rage some people
felt over that.

Tim: What happened was the stock dropped because they sold it, and then it
rocketed back up. It went up like ten dollars. It went way up
after that

Steve: That’s pretty cool.

Mark: They also had a situation where they put out a very, very
reasonable post about…

Steve: About wanting guns in the stores.

Mark: Firearms in the stores. And they didn’t say “we don’t want guns
in the stores because guns suck”, it was…

Steve: They make our other customers uncomfortable so we’d appreciate
it if you tried to think about them.

Mark: And their brand and their user experience is always been they
want to be, what is it, the second place, third place, what’s
the place that they want to be? It’s like your home, your work,
and they want to give you another place to go.

Tim: I’d be surprised if they want to be third place.

Mark: Well not like third place ranking, but they want to be…

Steve: They want Starbucks, your job, maybe your home. That’s the
order they want.

Mark: So they want to be this comfort zone that anyone can go to and
they said, “Whether you care about guns or not, this is not
making a comfortable place for people. There are folks who may
have an association with a firearm.”

Tim: Wasn’t there such an uproar over that?

Mark: Huge uproar.

Steve: Oh yeah, I mean they’re like Texas.

Mark: And they were very…

Tim: …bringing automatic weapons into my store.

Steve: What really cracks me up is that there are people that are so
attached to their guns that they must make a stink about not
wanting them in Starbucks. It’s fucking hilarious.

Tim: Well you never know what will happen. You never know. Oh, goodness.
So we have an event coming up at Fresh Tilled Soil. It’s called
Experience Dev. It’s a conference for folks who manage creative
teams and it talks about the relationship and we have a really
cool lineup. I think there are 20ish tickets left, so act now.
You can get more information at freshtilledsoil.com/experience-
dev. As usual you can get us on Twitter @TheDirtShow and please
review us on iTunes for prizes, hugs, and handshakes.

About Fresh Tilled Soil

Fresh Tilled Soil is a Boston-based user interface and experience design firm focused on human centered digital design