Yesterday, Geof Harries, posted this to Twitter:
What so many applications lack is not good UX design or programming, but rather a product vision that guides every single decision
That got me thinking about Microsoft’s current problems: they are the result of the company’s lack of a cohesive strategy. In so many ways, from their operating system, to their desktop software, to their mobile and cloud computing efforts, the company seems to lack a solid plan of action.
The source of this deficit appears to be the company’s CEO, Steve Ballmer. He’s a man who has demonstrated that he’s capable of all form of flippant, ignorant, and misleading remark. From foolishly dismissing the iPhone outright to pathetically howling like a wounded animal in front of a huge crowd (“Give it up for me!“), this man seems more bully than boss.
This was most recently demonstrated during a second quarter call when he openly contradicted Microsoft’s chief financial officer Chris Liddell’s report that the company is laying off 5,000 employees. Retorted Ballmer: ”Even as we take out 5,000 jobs, we’ll be adding a few thousand jobs…” Now that’s just plain confusing. Or, as the Register commented, “It was like the right hand not knowing – or not caring – what the left was doing.”
What’s more, Microsoft watcher Joe Wilcox reports that Ballmer’s company, “will offer no forward guidance for the remainder of fiscal 2009. Clearly, the global economic crisis has become a Microsoft crisis.” (Quick Take: Microsoft Earnings, Layoffs)
All that and a $4 billion dip in Windows revenue? Were I a Microsoft investor, I’d be worried.
I would posit that, as Geof’s point suggests, strategic confusion is the cause for Microsoft’s stumble. The company seems to be running madly off in all directions on a number of product fronts, without any form of solid leadership or cohesive vision. The company’s products themselves don’t (always) suck; they’re collectively just a grab bag of miscellaneous, disconnected efforts. Continue reading