A hint as to why Microsoft eventually lost its way. Allard’s tone is: Here’s this important thing that we need to exploit, instead, here is this incredibly cool thing that enables people to do all kinds of cool things: how can we be cool like that?
Allard’s focus: The Internet is an important way for us to make money. Apple and Google’s focus: How do we make the Internet work for you. Their philosophies are different — Apple believes in controlling the interface, while Google pursues a more open approach — but the fundamental understanding is shared. Cool tools to do cool things. Meanwhile, Microsoft just wants market share.
I think Leonard is giving Google and Apple too much credit and is trying to frame Microsoft’s failures in a pithy paradigm. All companies are out to exploit value - everyone is trying to figure out the next place where people congregate and talk and buy things and how to reach people in those places — Microsoft is just extra clumsy at it and doesn’t wrap their intentions nicely in rounded corners or clean primary colors.
Wedged in John Gruber’s excellent article on the battle between Apple and Google was this nugget :
Three years ago, just before the original iPhone shipped, here’s what Steve Ballmer said in an interview with USA Today’s David Lieberman:
“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60 percent or 70 percent or 80 percent of them, than I would to have 2 percent or 3 percent, which is what Apple might get.”
How is it that Steve Ballmer still has a job? To wit, Microsoft has failed at:
Essentially, they’ve missed the boat on every single technological development in the last decade. They can’t even anticipate and defend their cash cows — the Office tools and IE. So what are they left with? A round-the-wagon mentality for an operating system business that’s tethered to the increasingly obsolete PC.
What defines Microsoft now? What’s their mission? What is their company’s identity? Their existing enterprise and PC manufacturer relationships ensures steady profit margins for the next 5-7 years, but technology businesses operate 15-20 year out, and Microsoft’s irrelevance is not even up for debate any longer, but sadly, an obvious silent fact.