Microsoft is a company of conflicts. First of all, the company is awash in cash, having grown rich and fat through the years thanks to Windows and Office. Secondly, the company has struggled mightily and lost tens of billions of dollars through the years trying to diversify itself beyond Windows and Office.
Finally, Microsoft completely missed the mobile device revolution, ceding smartphones and tablets to Apple’s iPhone and iPad, and to a lesser extent Google’s Android (reports say Microsoft makes upwards of $5-billion a year licensing various patents to Android device makers; far more than it makes selling any Windows mobile devices).
Who caused Microsoft to lose those tens of billions in failed attempts to diversify the product line? It’s the same guy that now says Microsoft needs to compete against Apple and Android mobile devices.
Former CEO Steve Ballmer. Yes. That Steve Ballmer. The same guy that Microsoft’s board of directors took so long to
fire help him retire. Some say the Windows company has had success with the new Surface line of notebook hybrids, notebooks, and so-called tablet devices. But recent financial results and research indicates Apple made more money with the new iPad Pro than Microsoft did on anything related to Surface, so the company’s success in mobile devices just isn’t looking all that healthy.
The man famous for dishing out FUD instead of unleashing Microsoft’s riches and talent to tackle the mobile device industry now says Microsoft needs a clearer plan for the future.
Innovation in the future will either be from the cloud out to all devices, or from devices as supported by software in the cloud.
Uh huh. That’s a bit obvious, so not exactly a revelation. The cloud doesn’t mean much if there’s not a device connected to it, so if Microsoft wants to prosper in the cloud then it needs devices which connect to the company’s cloud services.
Maybe Microsoft should try to have it both ways.
I think it’s important for Microsoft to participate both ways. I think you see that with the work the company’s pioneering with Surface, even more so with HoloLens and Xbox
Yeah, and all three of those are big money makers for Microsoft, right? Right? What? They’re not?
The company really has to chart a direction in mobile devices. Because, if you’re going to be mobile-first, cloud-first, you really do need to have a sense of what you’re doing in mobile devices.
Let’s be fair to Microsoft and Ballmer’s legacy. They both had a direction in mobile devices. Only it was the wrong direction. They charted a course toward the future and it was the wrong direction. Worse, when they course-corrected, they chose to buy Nokia to help move the company more quickly into the mobile device direction set by Apple and followed by Google and Android device makers, but that, too, failed.
And, now, somehow, magically, Microsoft’s new strategy– a Mashup of Windows, cloud services, and a few funky Surface products that cannot outsell the world’s most expensive iPad– will put the company onto the right course for recovery? Really?
Why would anyone doubt that? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because every previous prognostication the company has come up with for the past 12 years has also been wrong?
Microsoft is having such a difficult time converting itself from the Windows and Office cash cow that financial results are placed into three boxes.
First, Windows and Surface and Bing. Lots of money, not much profits.
Second, Intelligent cloud. Think Azure, EMS, and other big hardware and cloud services.
Finally, Personal computing. Think Office.
Microsoft’s financials are broken down that way to avoid embarrassment. How much did Azure grow? 140-percent. Percent. That’s a number created from a number nobody knows much about. Other big numbers include how many Office apps were downloaded and how many Outlook users (big numbers not match to revenue or profits).
It’s apparent that Microsoft hasn’t given up on mobile, and still makes money from Android sales, but the clock is ticking and the handwriting on the wall is more visible. Time is running out.