Steve Ballmer has announced recently that he will retire as CEO of Microsoft. What this means for Microsoft apparently was evident by the reaction of the stock market, Microsoft stock jumped 7% after the announcement that he would leave the company. Therefore one could conclude that the stock market is happy about Steve Ballmer leaving. I am too. Steve Ballmer has been at the hands of the company for thirteen years and he has had his share of bad choices for the company.
Microsoft’s first flop under Ballmer was a big one. The iPod was released under Jobs’ Apple in 2001. Following the release of the original iPod, Microsoft took no action against it since it felt it was stupid to compete in that market. They thought that desktops would remain #1 and since media players until the iPod were flops, the iPod would be too. However, that’s where Apple is the important exception. Apple did not fail. In fact, Apple did the complete opposite of what Microsoft was expecting them to do, they succeeded. Tremendously. Apple found a goldmine with the iPod and it’s later renditions of it. It took Microsoft five years to release a competing product, which was doomed from the start because Apple had a monopoly in media players. Of course, had the Zune been a great product, Microsoft could have carved themselves out a nice piece of market share. However, unfortunately for Microsoft, the Zune was a complete flop. Sales were always terrible and Microsoft admitted defeat in 2011 and discontinued the device.
They had done well with XP and the Xbox and Xbox 360. Then, 2007 came. It would become the dark hour for Microsoft. Let’s think back to 2007 for a moment, Apple had just released the revolutionary iPhone. It completely changed the way we communicate. No company had anything close to it when it released. Then Google wanted to have some fun and they released the Android OS and many cell phone companies jumped ship on the Android OS. Two of the three major technology companies had released a smart phone. Apple and Google both released phones, or OS for phones. Where was the other player Microsoft? They remained quiet. Steve Ballmer chose not to go that route and lost out on an opportunity to become one of the main players on the smart phone market. In fact, it took him four years just to partner with Motorola and release a Windows 7 Phone which flopped in terms of sales. Now, Microsoft has Windows 8 phones with Motorola which continue to gain little to none attraction from the market.
It had been 3 years since the iPhone and Ballmer lost out on an opportunity at gold, strike two for Microsoft. That was okay though, because he found that Windows 7 was a good hit too. The whole tech world was again changed forever by Apple. In 2010, Apple introduce the iPad. The iPad and it’s successors would become the biggest line of tablet computers in the world. Google and friends quickly followed suit and made Android tablets. Same story as with the smartphone, two of the three tech giants were playing. Where was Microsoft? Microsoft, like they did with the iPhone snuffed at the iPad as being a toy and that it would never be a worldwide product that would sell. Again, Microsoft, for the third time, was horribly wrong. They had once again skipped on an opportunity to play with the big two. They made the mistake two times before with the Zune and the phones, you would think they would see that “hey, Apple was right the past two times, maybe we should listen this time”. That, as we know, didn’t happen. It would take Microsoft two years to make their own tablet. However, this tablet thus far has been a flop. Sales have not been good and stock has taken a major hit.
Of course, the things that Microsoft has missed out on has not only been Ballmer’s mistakes, he has also brought down both the Xbox and Windows in the past several months. Windows as an operating system has dominated the PC market during almost the entire time the PC market has been around. It has accumulated a lot of market share, especially with XP and 7. The Windows OS has remained the same for a long time and it has always just worked for people to buy these computers, albeit cheaper-made and worse than other OSs. People have bought Windows OS and enjoyed Windows OS for along time. However, Ballmer decided it was time for a change. He decided that he would reinvent the wheel. Unfortunately for Microsoft, the result was a square that didn’t move anywhere. The PC market has been failing for some time due to tablets and phones, something Microsoft avoided for so long, and fails at now. However, there still is a PC market, a huge one at that albeit a falling one. They still need to make money off of it. Steve Ballmer has placed his bets on Windows 8, something so drastic of a change, no one is downgrading to it. Windows 8 has been unsuccessful on desktops, laptops and tablets, including the laptop/tablet hybrids that have failed as well. Windows 8 is sitting at a marketshare slightly higher than Vista at about 5.4%, after a year after being on the market, the slowest adoption rate for any Windows OS. While 8.1 may fix some issues people have had with Windows 8, people are unconvinced at buying the new OS.
In addition to all these flops, Microsoft also unveiled it’s Xbox One at E3 2013. Despite the fact that many of the policies that Microsoft had that people didn’t like are gone, people have been won over by the PS4 and it’s superiority to the One. Even many Xbox fans are denouncing the One and moving to PS4 because of the vast difference between them. The company had some good new features but those were taken away when people complained about certain policies unrelated to what they took away. The media also has had a field day with the Xbox One, berating it at every angle until it’s reputation has been destroyed, which it has, despite not being released yet. Many people have favored the PS4 over the XBox One in polls and only time will tell if it will be another flop under Ballmer’s Microsoft, so far it doesn’t look good for them.
So what’s next for Microsoft. Microsoft in the last few months have showed signs of failing. It’s stock has been plummeting and sales were way below expectations. The company’s creative spark, if it ever had one, was lost and the employees have lost morale. This is under Ballmer. Honestly, things can get a lot worse for Microsoft, they could flop on Bing, Office and their other more successful ventures. They could start bleeding money. Microsoft, however, can get a lot better, and I mean a LOT better. Now that Ballmer is gone, could Microsoft stop this negative direction they are heading in. Honestly, I can’t say for sure. We could suppose the new CEO will be as uninventive and as terrible as Ballmer has and just keep going down this path. In fact, Microsoft has gone so far down this path, it may actually not change, even under a better, new CEO. It would take a lot of doing to un-do Ballmer’s errors and I don’t think Microsoft has the will to change, or has the morale to change. Ballmer put them on the firing block and it has no will to get back since they are so far down the path to self-destruction, they reached a point of no return.
Thanks for reading,