M$ doesn’t have much of a presence in markets that aren’t inherited. As opposed to the Windows, Office and Server dinosaurs, Microsoft’s attempts at making things people actually want to use have been somewhat less successful. The entity known as the “Entertainment and Device” division of Microsoft has been a balance sheet singularity responsible for the RROD, the Zune and billions of dollars of red ink since the division’s first appearance in the books. A series of mostly underwhelming and universally capital-hemorrhaging products and vapor paved the way for the latest slap against Ballmer’s flabby jowls. When SB appeared onstage at CES, he was groping an HP tablet called the Slate, a device meant to compete with the soon-to-be-shipped iPad. When HP bought Palm, they pulled the plug on the device a mere 5 months after SB fondled a demo in front of hundreds of frothing keynoters. The term I’m looking for here is “suck it”.
Making shitastic products is one thing; losing a major hardware host partner is quite another. Ballmer has put his foot down. After 22 years, Robbie Bach is hitting the bricks.
I want to spend a second on the HP-Palm thing. In the salad years, when Microsoft said “jump”, its hardware partners grabbed their ankles. Without question. Back then, making an acquisition that could be perceived as competing with a M$ offering would have gotten you kicked off the Windows tit in a heartbeat. Now, in 2010, one of the largest PC builders thinks nothing of acquiring a company that competes directly with Redmond in the mobile space, risking their status as a Windows carrier to do it. And they pulled a product out of the pipeline – practically out of Ballmer’s hands – in the process. No wonder you can still see the skidmarks in Redmond where Robbie’s ass bounded to the curb.
A week prior, M$’s Chief Experience Officer and CTO for E&D J Allard decided not to return from a sabbatical, possibly due to the dirt nap taken by the Courier project, something J (just J, got it?) was personally championing. Apparently Allard was disappointed that the Courier never graduated from “design student animation thesis” to, you know, something with specs and stuff that could actually be built. Maybe he missed the Microsoft orientation video on vaporware.
Looks like some senior vermin are taking the plunge from the SS Borg. Maybe they see the future for Microsoft that everyone else in tech sees.
So who will take on responsibility for the latest sucking void within the sucking void that is E&D?
Effective July 1, Don Mattrick, who leads our interactive entertainment business, and Andy Lees, who leads our mobile communications business, will report directly to me.
The “me”? Steve Ballmer. If you’re a Microsoft competitor, this is liquid awesome.