A while back Nokia’s CEO sent out a memo detailing how the company was sitting on a burning platform. A few days later Nokia announced that it was going to move away from its own mobile platforms to Windows Phone.
And it got me thinking that somebody should do that at Microsoft. Somebody should lay down the hard truths to the people of Redmond and do it soon.
Whether they like it or not, Microsoft is becoming a non-entity in consumer facing technology. Their hardware partners are moving onto other platforms and its way past time for them to ask the hard questions about their future. For me, these are the facts and questions I would ask
One, Microsoft is no longer the perceived tech leader. As stated earlier, no one in the real world is waiting with baited breath for the next product to come out of Redmond; the Xbox being the exception. The Zune and Windows Phone have been well received, but are not selling. Microsoft is not a company that is seen as getting the consumer. And more importantly, you are not the company people will look to to get a non Apple product, Google is.
Two, Google and Apple may never take away the PC market from Microsoft, but they will try their best to keep them their. Simply put, Apple and Google are not going can’t destroy Microsoft, but they can pin them to just the PC world.
Three, Microsoft and its OEM’s are no longer on the same page. Manufacturers like HTC and HP don’t want to be just makers of computers. They want to be like Apple with products that people seek out. They want to be brand names. This is why HP bought Palm and why HTC pushes the Sense interface and services. And its for the same reason Microsoft is creating stores and seeking greater control of the devices running its software.
Fourth, Microsoft is too dependent on and concerned with Windows and Office to the detriment of the company as a whole. Windows and Office are Microsoft’s biggest money makers but they also prevent them from entering new markets.
These are just some of the facts about the world Steve Ballmer and company operate in. And with each one questions follow.
Should Microsoft do hardware or concentrate on creating products with a smaller group of hardware makers?Is it time for Redmond to exert more vertical control?
Does Microsoft run Windows/Office or does Windows/Office run Microsoft? Could they create a successor?
Does the atmosphere at the company make it impossible to create a unified platform? Are the teams behind Bing and IE going to back the Windows Phone and Silverlight groups?
So many questions and no clear answers. But I do know its tie for that talk.