The 401st Blow :: Thoughts On Media

Steve Ballmer Still Lives?

Posted in Software, Technology, Uncategorized by Noah Harlan on May 26, 2010

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 this man still have a job?

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.


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