Okay, the sharks are circling, Microsoft is getting hammered in the press, and there is blood in the water as people find the courage to stand up and say negative things about the Evil Empire.
Can Novell take advantage of this to promote their own cause?
Their announcement of slashing prices for their Linux on Mainframes got some good coverage. You can read about it here:
Novell Slashes Mainframe Linux Pricing
Blogger Mark Fontecchio discusses it a little bit here:
Novell Looks to Push its Mainframe Edge
What is interesting in Fontecchio's blog is that he identifies Novell SUSE Linux having 80% of the Mainframe business. I personally was surprised by that. How had Novell managed to establish such a large marketshare and why aren't they telling anyone about it.
This small piece of news is extremely significant. Novell, by establishing a solid leadership role in a niche market that has big exposure should be able to leverage that into gains in other markets. Here are some of the Laws of Marketing that this falls under (For coverage of the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Trout and Ries, view my earlier blogs)
How Novell is winning by following the laws of marketing
Here is a quick look at how Novell is doing following the first 5 of the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.
Law #1 - The Law of Leadership - It is better to be first than it is to be better
Novell owns the Leadership spot in the Linux Mainframe market. Their decision to slash prices gets them good press and keeps the low end competitors at bay.
Law #2 - The Law of the Category - If you can't be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.
Novell has struggled in its attempts to dethrone Microsoft from the Desktop. The Var Guy, in his daily blog, comments that he never sees it happening.
Where Novell Can Beat Microsoft but the VAR Guy does say that they can win in a specific category. Read his article to find out what category that is.
Novell might not be able to dethrone the Windows from the Desktop, but they are winning in categories other than the desktop. Good strategy
Law #3 - The Law of the Mind - It's better to first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace.
Novell has struggled with this one. They are first in the marketplace right now with the Mainframe Linux business but I'm not sure who is really aware of this. But I don't pay attention to the Mainframe business so it is possible that for those who pay attention, Novell is first in the mind. (but I doubt it)
Law #4 - The Law of Perception - Marketing is not a battle of products, it's a battle of perceptions.
This is one Law Novell has had to struggle to overcome. They must put aggressive effort into creating a new perception of the company that doesn't have people routinely writing them off. But, the Mainframe announcement is one way of changing that perception. Novell is winning in certain areas of the market.
Law #5 - The Law of Focus - The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect's mind.
This law is a tough one. Novell isn't focused exclusively on the Linux Mainframe market. And they aren't even exclusively focused on the Linux market...although they are doing a pretty good job of only talking about Linux.
What word would Novell own? If you say Mainframe Linux, you would hope that Novell would own that word. But I'm not sure they want that word to limit them.
My suggestion continues to be "Business-Driven Linux" as the word that Novell should be focusing on. Then, when they announce that they own 80% of the Linux Mainframe market and Red Hat owns 20%, it reinforces in the mind of prospects that Novell Suse Linux is designed for business-driven needs, since mainframes and big business go together in the minds of the prospects.
A Successful Strategy
Novell should be able to begin exploiting the Windows mess by focusing on areas where they are winning. Telling their story loud about those wins, and putting constant pressure on the media an analysts to think about what company is best poised for the future of business needs. Is it Microsoft with their tottering monolithic infrastructure, or Novell that is winning on many fronts and is focused on driving down costs, complexity, and management. Novell needs to be shouting these things out and positioning themselves against Microsoft.