Yet, that’s exactly what we see in Microsoft, circa 2013. A once thriving and prosperous company that is flailing in a different era. Who’s to blame for Microsoft’s troubles?
Killing Windows Softly
Just to be fair about the situation that Microsoft finds itself in these days, all the math doesn’t support the company’s frequently announced demise.
Microsoft is loaded with cash and makes money hand over fist on the profitability of Windows and Office, both of which are considered dinosaurs in the mobile device age.
Meanwhile, Apple has grown to dominate a number of interrelated product segments– notebooks, portable media players, online media sales, smartphones, and tablets.
Indeed, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs heralded the arrival of the iPad as the beginning of the post-PC era, but Microsoft’s problems began years before that monumental event.
The company that Bill Gates built simply hasn’t been able to repeat the performance of Windows and Office in other endeavors– search engine, advertising, smartphones, tablets, online media sales.
Up and down the product line, Microsoft’s efforts are anemic failures, so when we talk about the post-PC era, one that does not have Microsoft at the top of the pack, we have to consider that Microsoft might be dying.
Who’s to blame for Microsoft’s troubles?
The Blame Game
First, a little history. The initial 10 years of Steve Jobs return to his rightful throne at Apple were devoted to righting the ship, gathering resources, and planning for the future. The last five years brought the iPhone, App Store, iPad, and enormous profits.
Meanwhile, Microsoft, which Jobs acknowledged won the OS wars back in the day and urged the Mac faithful to get over it and move on, became burdened with paranoia, and fearfully set out to conquer product markets for which it was woefully unprepared to compete or manage.
Windows had security problems so severe that it drove millions of customers into Apple’s waiting arms– clean and neat stores with products that were easier to use and manage.
For business, both Windows and Office became an expensive and complex albatross. Microsoft was caught flatfooted by the remarkable successes Apple’s 21st century initiatives– iPod, iTunes Store, iPhone, App Store, iPad, and couldn’t get PC manufacturers to create the same cachet of the new aluminum clad Macs.
A Perfect Storm
Clearly, any consideration of the death of Microsoft could be blamed on a perfect storm of inept and slothful corporate management, and Apple’s nimble blitzkrieg of integrated products which yet dominates marketshare or profit or both of each product category.
Most of the woes Microsoft faces today are self inflicted, and six years after the launch of Apple’s iconic iPhone, the Windows maker has only answered with anemic me-too products which haven’t captured the imagination of customers or the enterprise. If the future of computing is in mobile devices, Microsoft is being left far behind and will need to do what Apple did to climb away from the brink of death.
Apple builds products that customers want to buy and use. When Microsoft’s products generate the same level of enthusiasm and excitement, maybe the company will rise from that pile of rich ashes.