You can learn a lot about a person from their style of communication. I am not talking about their ability to convey intelligent thoughts in a written format — I mean by simply listening to the words coming out of their mouth. Best of all, once transcribed, the facts really jump right out at you. When I read this post about Ballmer’s and Gates’ feelings on the idea of Microsoft breaking up into smaller companies, I noticed that Gates actually offered a valid path of thought while Ballmer was boring me with buzzwords. “Economic dis-synergies?” Seriously, Steve?
While both men presented strong arguments for Microsoft remaining intact, I actually felt like I had a better time understanding the logic behind the thoughts after reading Gates’ own thoughts on Microsoft. Well, once I excused the word synergy. Guys, ten years ago called – they want their buzz words back!
Getting back on track, it seemed evident to me that in a round-about way both men were trying to say that the company’s components were not strong enough to stand alone in the market place without diluting the brand. So while the Xbox could become its own company, it would miss out in cross promotions and cross-branding with its counterpart software. With the diluted brand of MCE and Xbox living as two separate things, keeping the two compatible and recognizable to the public might become a real challenge. I am likely a little off here, but I think the general theme rings true.
I come back full circle to one thing that was perhaps the most telling in this interview and it’s the white-knuckled control Microsoft continues to hold on its assets. Who cares if someone has a concept that would better the product — it’s going to be Microsoft’s way or forget it. Worse is Ballmer’s dream of Microsoft becoming to software what Google has become to information. Too late, man. Sorry. You have the OS, enterprise, and gaming markets working for you. But honestly, search isn’t your game.
And last, the one thing this article seems to reflect is what feels like stagnation in the company. I know for a fact there are young, bright minds in Microsoft screaming to be heard. Yet instead, we hear the old guard drone on about synergy. Come on, guys! If you’d like the company to remain relevant and not just become a legacy commitment for future generations, it’s time to really study what people want and who isn’t already doing it. Bing = fails hard for search. It works, but it’s no better than Google. Windows Phone 7 could be fantastic, but it just needs to iron out some kinks along the way.
I agree that Microsoft may not need to be broken up. But for the love of Pete, someone needs to drain the swamp over there in the exec offices. Fresh ideas and fresh blood. Windows Phone 7 Live Tiles is one example…what’s next?