Alright, I’ll be honest. I don’t think any executive at Apple fears Microsoft. At least, the Microsoft we all know and love to bash from time to time. Apple has become far more successful than Bill Gates’ company, and the company that Jobs built seems to have an inherent fear of becoming fat and lazy– just like Microsoft.
If there’s a fear anywhere at all of Microsoft, it’s what the company could become and how a newly refurbished Microsoft could impact mobile technology. Since Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, barely six years ago, the technology landscape has changed dramatically.
Even in the post-PC era Microsoft still reigns atop the traditional PC business, but has almost no presence in the mobile arena, dominated by Apple, Samsung, and Google. Other major players have fallen in combat (Motorola, BlackBerry, Nokia, et al).
Microsoft’s CEO is all but gone, and there’s noise from shareholders that the company would be best served if founder and Chairman Bill Gates stepped aside, too. That would pave the way for the company to find a dynamic leader who could, perhaps, maybe, over time, reverse Microsoft’s fortunes in mobile technology.
Microsoft does not have a good history of managing acquisitions and swallowing most of Nokia and integrating the former smartphone leader into the company will take time to digest. Meanwhile, Apple, Google, Samsung, and other mobile technology makers are not standing still. The Nokia purchase was a desperate move to buy a player on life support so Windows Phone could become relevant again. Microsoft has enormous resources, plenty of intelligent talent, but doesn’t seem to have a plan or strategy for the future.
Worse, there’s no leader, and without someone guiding the good ship Titanic around the icebergs, Microsoft’s power in the marketplace continues to sink.
If a newly minted CEO can change the situation and turn the tub around, Microsoft could become a force to recon with. To become a major player in mobile technology, Microsoft will need to move faster than Apple and Google and that’s not an easy task, regardless of the remaining stash of resources. A well selected CEO could change the company’s course but it’s going to take time, daring, money, good but brutal decisions, and near perfect implementation (of whatever the plan may be).
Microsoft just doesn’t have a history of behaving that way.