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Sep
17

Oh Brother, (Microsoft) Where Art Thou?

By · September 17, 2010 at 12:47 am

Apple released the iPad.
Google released several versions of an Android based tablet.

Apple introduced a the iPhone 4.
Google unleashed an army of Android based phones.

Apple announced Apple TV.
Google, which owns YouTube, began streaming live video.

These two companies battle for technology supremacy, but
do you know who is missing from this discussion?

Microsoft.

Originally, I was going to write a blog about how
lazy Microsoft has become.

I was going to paint the picture of Microsoft as a
teen slacker living in his Mom’s basement.

Mom: “Microsoft, when are you going to stop playing
XBox, and get a real job?”

Microsoft: “I quit my job so I could play Halo
full time.”

While most Microsoft products don’t generate a buzz
from consumers, they do generate profit.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, the net
revenue for Microsoft was $62.48 Billion.  It was
a record for the company.

Net income was $18.76 Billion, also a record.
(a growth of 29% over the previous fiscal year)

Not bad for a company no one talks about…

So where did the buzz go?

Vista was a buzz kill.  Consumers lost confidence
with Microsoft, and those Apple commercials didn’t help.

It must be noted that, Microsoft caters to business.  Products like
Sharepoint do not create consumer excitement, they DO create revenue.
(see sales figures above)

Microsoft is also missing a strong spokesman who can
highlight the success and smooth over the rough spots.

Someone like… Bill Gates.

In the early years, Microsoft fed off of Gates’ drive.
Bill was able to sell the heck out of software, even
though he knew it was buggy.

Under the leadership of Gates, Microsoft became a
powerhouse, a company to be admired and feared by
the competition. 

(Kinda like what Steve Jobs did for Apple)

Then on June 15, 2006, Bill announced he was stepping
down in 2008. And with him, the wind went out of the
company’s sails.

While he is not a charismatic showman, Steven Ballmer,
the current CEO, has made some tough decisions.

With the recent economic downtown, Microsoft has
streamlined operations.  They currently have
88,596 employees, down from previous high of 92,736.

In addition to fiscal responsibility, Microsoft
shored up its product line.

Windows 7, actually works!

As a result, the OS has been a hit, but it has not
been easy.  Microsoft has spent millions in ads,
which basically say: “We don’t stink anymore!”

While a stable operating system is nice, it doesn’t
generate buzz with consumers… or Wall Street.

Over 5 years ago, I bought Microsoft stock for 24.35 a share.
On September 16th, my stock closed at 25.33 a share.

On September 16th, Apple closed at $276.57
Google closed at $481.06.

This shows two things.

1) I bought the wrong stock.

2) Wall Street values innovation and consumer buzz.

As a shareholder, I applaud Microsoft for maintaining a solid
company with a strong foundation on business products.  I am
glad Ballmer streamlined Microsoft and stabilized the product
lines.

But…

As a greedy shareholder, I just want to say:
“Get off your Mom’s couch and innovate!”

But leave your XBox controller, I want to play Halo.

Todd Donaldson

P.S.  I know Microsoft created buzz this week with the
release of Halo Reach.  But don’t you think it’s time
to make a new version the game system?

XBox 360 was launched in 2005!

At the very least, it needs a blu-ray player!

Categories : 13 Tech Blog

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