Sunday, September 15, 2013

Microsoft’s Fate is Now Firmly In Its Own Hands

Microsoft is not going to become a “Devices and Services” company overnight. It takes a long time for a ship the size of Microsoft (and even bigger with Nokia now in tow) to correct course once the rudder is moved. Between the company’s massive “One Microsoft” reorganization, the eventually “retirement” of CEO Steve Ballmer, the integration of Nokia and the naming of a new CEO, Microsoft is going to be in a state of flux for the foreseeable future.
When it all settles down, though, Microsoft will have all the tools it wants to turn itself into a success… or failure. It will have the hardware designers, engineers, marketing and distribution in house for its smartphones and probably tablets. It will have Windows 8 and its manufacturing partners. It will have its cloud services through Azure and other services like its Office suite of apps. It will have Bing to add as its Web linchpin to all those devices. Add all the legacy enterprise tech (including new additions like Yammer) and Microsoft has everything it needs to transition into the 21st Century of innovation and technology. But no clear guarantee of success. Google has been contemplating the future of the Web, services and mobile devices and has a very competent strategy for the future, with fail-safe mechanisms in place in case of disruption. Apple may be vulnerable on a short term basis to market fluctuations, but is still the singular global powerhouse in mobile devices and computing. Samsung is a wild card manufacturer that can adjust to market conditions on the fly and perform extremely well. Amazon, Facebook, Intel, IBM and others lurk on the edge of big time technology and make billions of dollars doing so. Nokia will be an important piece in the Microsoft machine but just the ability to build your own smartphones does not mean that the company will find victory in the mobile industry. There are just too many external forces to contend with, all of which push the envelope on a quarterly basis. “At the end of the day, Microsoft has to compete on the attractiveness to the end user for its products, and just having a device producer on board doesn’t get them there,” Gold said.

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