(click on image for larger picture)
During World War II, intelligence agencies used something called content analysis to determine conditions and morale in war-time Germany. They did this with soft information. They would get regional and small town weekly newspapers, go through them with a fine tooth comb.
Typically, these papers would have lists of local people that died. From that, they could create overall casualty estimates. The local papers would have notices that the butchery was closed due to lack of supplies. That would tell the Allies of food shortages. An article telling folks how many ration coupons was required for a liter of gasoline was a good window into fuel.
Essentially, content analysis is taking innocuous bits of information, making inference about them and coming up with a bit of knowledge. It is the process of integrating facts into knowledge about a situation.
Analysts on Wall Street do this by looking at balance sheets. However analysts miss the big picture very often. I am still irked that Arvind Bhatia was all over the media, pumping up Facebook saying that it was the best thing since sliced bread. He should be fired or resign in disgrace.
That aside, let's put Microsoft under the lens. I could not believe that my Hotmail inbox had spam from Microsoft. And to top it all off, it was salacious spam of the National Enquirer ilk.
My own content analysis tells me that their search engine Bing is suffering. Of course I don't have to cogitate hard to come to that fact. I have several websites, and I can see what search engines are the referrers, and Bing shows up once in a blue moon.
However this latest spam from Microsoft trying to encourage me to use Bing is pretty much a sign of Seattle desperation. The spam says: "We can't make this stuff up. Scary disease is turning cats into living robots !!!!!!". THe fine print says that you are seeing some of the hottest Bing searches.
I suppose that their reasoning, is that if they spam their entire hotmail userbase, and get a few clicks, then their numbers will improve. But this strategy is just as lame as those used by the spammers of malware and the Twitter spammers who say: Click here because I saw a funny picture of you on the Internet.
How the mighty have fallen. Microsoft used to be so supercilious that they didn't need to advertise at all. Now after begging didn't work, they tried scaring. After logging out of hotmail, they re-directed to a page that tried to tell me that my secure Chrome browser was a 2.5 out of 5 and that I should upgrade to the virus haven Internet Explorer. When the scare tactic didn't work, they sunk even lower and tried the tabloid effect with the kitty robots.
So, chalk up another dead man walking. Microsoft has had its day. And I am a geek but I oughta be a stock analyst. And if I was, I would advise my clients to short the living crap out of Microsoft stock. You will make a ton of money. (Fine Print: This by no means constitutes investment advice. You should consult a professional to be properly advised on how to lose money in the stock market. It is their job to mislead the ordinary investor and give inside information to institutional clients.)