Today Apple’s market cap surpassed Microsoft’s to make Apple the second largest company in America. At the end of trading today, Apple’s market cap was $222.12 billion versus Microsoft’s $219.18 billion. My only question is:
Why does Steve Ballmer still have a job?
Since he took over Microsoft from Bill Gates there has hardly been a single stand out executive move by Microsoft. Nothing that would seem innovative has come to market. And I say ‘come to market’ with care.
People howled that Microsoft had an iPad killer in the works with the HP Slate. The problem? HP realized that Windows Mobile 7 (or whatever hack OS Microsoft tried to develop for the device) wasn’t worth building a platform on so they bought Palm and Palm’s much more sophisticated WebOS platform. The Microsoft Courier dual-screen slate? Yep, that was killed just a couple weeks ago and Bill Gates is now saying they’re focussing on “a number of different tablet projects, with a focus on stylus-based input.”
Where is the vision?
The problem is that Steve Ballmer is exactly the wrong man for the job.
Steve Ballmer is a sales guy. Look around silicon valley and you won’t find many of the big boys being run by sales guys. Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Eric Schmidt. None are sales guys. They’re either technical visionaries or efficient operators. When Ballmer took over Microsoft he was running a company that was already ubiquitous. Why would they need a marketer – everyone already knows Windows. They needed someone with a bold vision and technical confidence to see where things should be going. When you are dominant in a market like Microsoft is, you can set the conversation. Don’t believe me? Ask Adobe…
You need a sales and marketing guy when you are Palm, after the development of WebOS and before the purchase by HP. You have a great product, but nobody knows who you are. You either let the world know about your great product, or you can just make creepy videos.
The question that is left is how long Microsoft’s board and shareholders will let the wrong man run their company down.
Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated, “If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.”
In response to Bill’s comments, General Motors issued a press release stating: If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:
1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.
2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.
3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.
4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.
5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive – but would run on only five per cent of the roads.
6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single “This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation” warning light.
7. The airbag system would ask “Are you sure?” before deploying.
8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your cr would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna
9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.
10. You’d have to press the “Start” button to turn the engine off.
Now apparently the car industry and Microsoft have made amends. Today comes a report that Ford and Microsoft are partnering up to build embedded software to manage your electric vehicle.
Count me out on owning one of those…