Microsoft has been having quite a time picking brand names that stand up to trademark suits. We all remember the issue over the term "Metro" for the new universal interface across Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox. Previously all of the interface concepts were referred to as Metro, until Metro AG, the world's 5th largest retailer, contacted them and demanded they pick a new name. unfortunately they have had no luck accomplishing that, having used the terms Modern UI and now simply Windows Store style.
This week, Microsoft has lost another brand name to not being legally prepared, this time one that matters: SkyDrive. For those who do not know, SkyDrive is a cloud storage solution from Microsoft that is heavily integrated into their current product offerings, with even closer integration in upcoming products. Windows 8.1, codenamed Blue, is set to have SkyDrive as its default storage location. Windows Phone automatically uploads photos to the service's Photos section. Xbox One will allow cloud storage of games and save data to SkyDrive as well.
All of that is almost correct, as Microsoft will now have to change the name of the service from SkyDrive. A trademark suit with BSkyB, or British Sky Broadcasting, was lost, with Microsoft having to let go of the brand which infringed on the 'Sky' mark. The mark in question is for a former cloud storage service, Sky Store & Share, which BSkyB shuttered in 2011, when they initially filed the trademark suit.
Luckily for Microsoft, BSkyB has allowed Microsoft a reasonable period of time to transition off of the mark. If Microsoft is unable to make a deal out of court for a licensing program for the name, which they have not mentioned being interested in, this loss will cost Microsoft dearly.
As Microsoft has been marketing SkyDrive as the center of a technological wheel that includes all of Microsoft's technologies, like Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, Internet Explorer, Outlook and Office, there will be a tremendous amount of branding changes to be done. All of these applications and platforms will need to have logos, marketing material and naming updated to reflect whatever the new name of the service is.
In addition, there will be a lot of development cost involved. All of these apps will have new API endpoints that will need to be developed and implemented. All existing SkyDrive shares will need to be rerouted to the new domain. Plus, there are non-Microsoft apps that rely on SkyDrive heavily that will also need to be rewritten at the cost of developers unrelated to Microsoft.
This last issue is the one that might cost Microsoft the most. At a time when Microsoft is trying to court new development on its platforms, costing those developers money because of a bad decision on Microsoft's part will not help in winning hearts and minds.
Luckily, SkyDrive as a brand name is still relatively unknown. Unless you use Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8, you might have never interacted with the brand at all. If this was going to happen, this would be the time to have it happen. Hopefully, whatever the new brand name is, it will not have the same over-reaching, bland descriptive branding that Microsoft has been known for.
Could DirecTV and the NFL's happy relationship finally come to a disastrous end? It can if the two don't come to an agreement on the price that it will cost DirecTV for NFL Sunday Ticket.
During the earnings conference call for the second quarter, DirecTV CEO Michael White spoke about the current negotiations with the NFL. Their contract with the league ends after the 2014 season, so the satellite company still has a small amount of time left.
We're always in a dialogue with the NFL about how things are going and how we can continue to improve and build the franchise, and we've had those discussions as well this year. We continue to have very constructive discussions with the NFL. I continue to be optimistic that we're great partners together and that Sunday Ticket will stay with us for the long haul.
It's all about the price that the NFL would like to increase the deal to. As it stands, DirecTV shells out just over $1 billion for the Sunday Ticket package each year, giving them exclusive rights over the subscription, not counting the Web access. That's quite a lot of money, but it secures DirecTV as the only provider of this content. The company's CFO Patrick Doyle seems to agree with his statements back in March that DirecTV won't pay an exponentially higher price for the package.
For us, there's a point where we're certainly willing to renew and at some increase that's reasonable, that we can absorb and continue to pass on to the customer. I think, obviously, if it goes above that, we would certainly either think about not carrying it or go nonexclusive.
DirecTV has had exclusive access to broadcast Sunday Ticket since its inception back in 1994. However the NFL is putting pressure on upping the price of its media deals across the board. CBS, NBC, FOX and ESPN, altogether, have averaged a price increase of just over 75 percent for their renegotiated contracts, so if you carry that over to DirecTV, that send the current $1 billion price tag to $1.75 billion. Is that a hike that the satellite company would be willing to pay? If not, I'm sure any cable company would be quick to swoop in and try to work out a short-term deal immediately. However, with the amount of added incentives that DirecTV offers, like watching on your tablet, computer and even adding your fantasy football team into the Sunday Ticket interface itself, I think it would take a lot more work than what it's worth for cable providers, especially considering some of them balked for years at even introducing the NFL RedZone channel. It's also possible that DirecTV would consider signing a non-exclusive deal if it meant a sharp discount in price.
In contrast, Aereo is currently
expanding their reach. By only having to pay $8 a month with no contract commitment, if Aereo is in your favorite team's market, that's a far better price to pay for five months than the $300 sticker shock that is Sunday Ticket - or having to sign a one- or two-year agreement with DirecTV.
Could Aereo be damaging DirecTV's value of Sunday Ticket to the point where they could no longer justify paying the price tag? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.