Microsoft Defense Dance

Is Microsoft buying Nokia a final point of Ballmer failure? Likely not, but with his track record one has to wonder. Microsoft is buying Nokia’s handset hardware business and licensing Nokia mobile technology patents (something that Apple also did after a nasty bout of litigation). Most folks think Microsoft is attempting to clone Apples 360° product offering. Microsoft already started down this road with their Surface tablets, which received rave reviews from both customers. Recognizing that they are desperately behind in the now-dominating consumer mobile market, Microsoft seems to be building a new product offering by bringing all the hard and software in-house. (The obvious punch line is that Microsoft is adopting their own orphan since Nokia is the only handy maker squarely behind mobile Windows) The more interesting aspect of this news item is Nokia’s patents, which Microsoft is licensing (Nokia was wise not to sell that revenue stream). … Continue reading

Lavish Leadership

“Maybe Microsoft suffers from too much leadership.” That surprising statement came from an industry analyst with one of the major groups. We were recently splitting lunch and enjoying some obscenely great Silicon Valley weather, discussing the tech industry as a whole and wondering if Microsoft might soon be known only as “The Xbox Company.” We mutually marveled at how seemingly inept Microsoft has become, with one market disaster after another. Since we both had experience with start-ups and big vendors alike, the discussion focused keenly on leadership and ossification. You never want to be the leader for the former. Microsoft has two primary problems when it comes to innovation, the first of which is that they remain consumed by former glories and the old ways of thinking. This same analyst told me that – at least until recently – Microsoft sized their markets based on the number of PCs in … Continue reading

Ballmer Bye-Bye?

Is it time for Steve Ballmer to bail? I don’t pick on Steve for the fun of it — not entirely at least.  I bring up the dreaded discussion of putting a new captain at the helm because after a decade with Ballmer as skipper, the good ship Microsoft is foundering, leaking between nearly every plank.  In an era where everything changed, Microsoft did not change fast enough and has failed to catch the rising tides. Apple has not capitalized on everything and yet Apple now has a market cap larger than Microsoft (which we can take with a few drops of sea water since Apple’s forward P/E ratio is more than 50% higher than Microsoft’s, showing that navigators see better odds with Jobs on the investment horizon). Drucker wisely noted that “Business has only two basic functions – marketing and innovation.”  High tech is uniquely a product of both.  … Continue reading