Even my children will tell you that my aptitude for allthings technology is, to be kind, underwhelming. Our family has had aflat-screen TV for nearly two years now and I still have to refer to the manualwhen I want to use the DVR function. When there's a tech problem,troubleshooting is something far brighter minds than mine engage in.

If you poll the IT department at our company and make themistake of mentioning my name, don't act surprised when you are greeted by aneerie silence on the other end followed by a prompt hang-up.

Yes, I have difficulty discerning a terabyte from terrafirma, but I do know something about marketing and failure thereof.

Which brings us to last week's announcement thatMicrosoft ended a five-year exercise in futility in attempting to wrest marketshare in the lower-end financial app arena from undisputed champion QuickBooksby stopping sales of its Office Accounting.

The official end comes November 16, but those far moreknowledgeable than I realized the end had come long before that.

When launched as Small Business Accounting, I rememberreceiving a preview of the application in an empty hotel restaurant during theNew York accounting show. And while it appeared to be functional enough, I wasskeptical that even with the formidable resources of Microsoft, I didn't knowwhy someone happy with QuickBooks would suddenly change in midstream.

As an editor, you can imagine the excitement that itgenerated over potential market share stories pitting Microsoft againstQuickBooks' parent Intuit. Yet, any battles that ensued resembled not so muchCoke vs. Pepsi or McDonald's vs. Burger King, but rather Southern Cal vs. AkronTechnical College.

As someone who has covered advertising campaigns in aprevious life, the death knell for a new product launch traditionally comesjust after a name change, which, true to form, happened when Small BusinessAccounting adopted the more amorphous nomenclature, Office Accounting.

The company said all Microsoft Office Accounting productsin North America and the U.K. would be affected, including Office AccountingExpress, Office Accounting Professional and Professional Plus, and SmallBusiness Accounting.

Concurrent with its decision on Office Accounting,Microsoft said it would also stop updating its personal finance software -Microsoft Money.

Microsoft said it would continue to support its OfficeAccounting installed base for five years.

In the end it was a technology-oriented company pittedagainst a user-based company and if I've learned anything over the years, thecloser the relation to the customer, the longer and more profitable thelifecycle.


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