Microsoft may have chosen a new CEO but it seems it still hasn't figured out how to carve a future in the Apple-driven Post-PC computer world. And it all comes down to Office.
[ABOVE: When Apple "froze Hell" to bring iTunes to Windows, it changed the industry. Now Microsoft must do the same.]
You see, after years of foundering Microsoft is fading. Combine both PC and Post-PC device sales and Apple sold more systems last quarter than sold by the entire Windows ecosystem. I expect the usual denial-types who insist "Post-PC devices are not PCs" will carp. I'm sorry for their discomfort, but suspect their opinion reflects a prejudice similar to the stupidity observed by Dale Hansen.
Hansen's exhortation that we should "celebrate our differences" would be good advice for Microsoft as it flounders in the new Post PC reality.
Windows isn't selling. For most computer users an iPad, iPhone or one of their many quickly obsolescent challengers do everything they need to do on a PC: email, music, a few apps, games, and so on.
Microsoft truly needs to celebrate these differences. Which is why it is so surprising to hear a senior member of company management tell analysts the company is still "thoughtful" about whether it should introduce an iOS version of Office.
Microsoft faces increasing competition in the personal productivity markets and each day its command of that space shrinks. Microsoft must accept that its vision of a Windows-only planet is done for. It must accept that in the world after antitrust those successes Microsoft historically had in establishing that vision turned out to be unsustainable against free and open competition.
Apple set the scene
Apple changed the game. From the iMac to iPhoto, from iPod to the iPhone, to the iPad and the decision to offer OS upgrades for free, Cupertino has set the scenery for a new type of tech industry. An industry Google quickly latched onto.
If Jonny Evans can see that then just how much more time do Microsoft's insanely paid executives need to understand this changed industry?
Right now, people still want Office, but analysts say Microsoft blocked introduction of Office on non-Windows mobile platforms in an attempt to boost sales of its own mobile devices.
"It's a strategy that has simultaneously failed to drive adoption of these [Windows] devices and put at risk Office's dominance in the business productivity market," IDC told clients. "The company is not only leaving a great deal of money on the table, but it's also forcing tablet users to find alternatives to Office."
There are alternatives. These alternatives may not match Office right now, but so what? History is not a fixed point, it moves forward, and while Microsoft's competitors continue to improve their Office alternatives, what's Microsoft up to?
Microsoft, with all that thinking, you need to go out and buy yourself a fiddle because (and I'm sorry to say this) if you do ever manage to wake up you'll realize: You are Rome; You are on fire; You no longer have time to think.
Uodate: Mary J Foley reckons some form of Office for iPad hits market later this year. Presumably tied up to an Office 365 subscription, though she's not sure about that. I'm not entirely sure a subscription-based product will save the farm, given the growing alternatives, but if Foley's facts don't founder, then that's better than more "thinking".
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