Microsoft was hoping for an abundant gift from the market share Santa Claus back in December 2012 and January 2013. Unfortunately for the company, it wasn’t a very merry Christmas. With consumers moving away from desktop PCs and laptops, Microsoft needed its new tablet computer to do well. Instead, it would be an understatement to say that the tablet’s sales were quite disappointing. Meanwhile, back in Microsoft’s traditional stomping grounds of PCs, a big Windows 8 promotion before the holiday season was intended to boost sales of Microsoft-loaded computers. What actually happened was that PC sales dropped, with many consumers telling journalists that they didn’t see any good reason to upgrade.
The Microsoft story over the last decade can be summed up with this one eye-popping statistic: in 2005, the company enjoyed a 95 percent market domination of Internet-connected devices; by the end of 2012, that percentage had dropped to a measly 20 percent. Furthermore, back in 2005, 55 Windows devices were sold for every one Apple device; guess what the numbers look like these days? Apple is still trailing, but only barely. For every two Windows devices sold, one Apple device is sold.
In other words, some die-hard Microsoft fans might be wondering if they should worry now that long-time CEO Steve Ballmer is retiring. Will it spell more bad news for a company that’s already been struggling for most of the last 10 years? Rather than feeling discouraged about Ballmer’s departure, however, Microsoft fans should probably feel enthusiastic and hopeful. According to most industry analysts, the old-timer should have left Microsoft years ago to make way for new blood and new ideas to revitalize a stagnant company.
Marketplace to Microsoft: Stop Being a Copycat
It’s hard to claim that Microsoft has ever truly innovated. Its breakthrough success, the easy-to-use and mass-produced GUI known as Windows, was an idea unceremoniously lifted from the original GUIs developed at Xerox PARC. Even Steve Jobs added a GUI to the original Mac back in 1984, one year before the first Windows system. Nevertheless, despite the fact that there was nothing particularly new about Windows, thanks to the tenacity and business savvy of Bill Gates, it became the graphical user interface we all knew best.
Later, when Internet Explorer came out, it too borrowed heavily from existing programs, most notably Netscape. Again, in the survival-of-the-fittest battle that followed, it was Microsoft’s sheer power and business savvy that made IE the Internet browser of choice for so many years—not innovation.
Since then, Microsoft has given us one imitation after another, with lower and lower rates of success: Bing chased Google, So.cl chased Google+ and Facebook, the Windows Phone chased the Apple iPhone and the aforementioned Surface chased the iPad. All have had lackluster results. The one imitation product since Windows that does deserve some credit, however, is the Xbox—a great device that was Microsoft’s response to the Sony PlayStation success. Except for the Xbox, however, most consumers have made a gradual move away from all these Microsoft copycat products, whereas other copycat products, like Bing, never saw much consumer adoption in the first place.
Microsoft After Ballmer
Given Microsoft’s declining market share over the last several years, a new CEO could be the company’s best chance at recapturing its glory days of the 1990s. Who might take over as the new CEO? The company is understandably tight-lipped about that subject at the moment; industry experts, though, do have a few theories about who the new boss might be.
Stephen Elop: This is the name most often mentioned when the question of a new CEO for Microsoft comes up. Elop has worked at Microsoft before, he became the CEO at Nokia and he is now returning to Microsoft following its recent acquisition of the Finnish phone maker. Elop is officially returning to his old company as the head of the devices team, but many suspect that the board will promote him to the corner office.
Julie Larson-Green: Another Microsoft veteran who could potentially rise to the position of CEO is Julie Larson-Green. After revitalizing Microsoft’s Visual C++, she recently moved on to head up the company’s Xbox division.
Alan Mulally: If there’s been a “comeback kid” in the car industry to take notice of, it’s been Ford. The man credited with the company’s turn-around is Alan Mulally, who reportedly changed the culture at the automaker and did much to reinvigorate the brand.
Mike Lawrie: IBM was once in the same flailing position as Microsoft is now, but CEO Lou Gerstner changed that situation for a while during the early 2000s. His chief of sales at that time was Mike Lawrie, who today is the CEO of Computer Sciences Corp.
Leading article image courtesy of ToddABishop
About the Author
Hassan Bawab (@hassanbawab) is the Founder and CEO of Magic Logix, an interactive digital marketing agency in Carrollton, TX. Magic Logix combines dynamic website development, professional website design, SEO and integrated online marketing to drive new leads with high conversion. He is committed to high standards in every aspect of his business and actively leads his team of professional developers, designers and online marketers. Critical to their success is Hassan¹s emphasis on clear, open communication among employees and with clients. Hassan believes that the best CEO is also the best listener.