Steve Ballmer’s Dilemma

Death of the desktop is clear not because Windows desktop sales are declining but because Macintosh desktop sales are declining. When Mercedes (Apple) begins to suffer declining unit sales, what does it mean for GM (Microsoft)? Not good.

The only option is to invent the future, which Ballmer and Microsoft are attempting to do by entering the tablet hardware business (again emulating Apple) and cutting bold smart phone deals with outfits like Nokia. But Microsoft, for all its posturing and $1 billion marketing budgets, isn’t any good at inventing the future and knows it. Ballmer lacks confidence that Redmond can invent it’s way out of the current hole. And because he lacks confidence, as does nearly everyone else at Microsoft, of course it won’t happen.

Microsoft didn’t invent the PC but benefited from its invention. Microsoft didn’t invent BASIC, they didn’t invent the PC operating system, they didn’t invent word processor, spreadsheet, or presentation applications, they didn’t invent PC games, they didn’t invent the graphical user interface, they didn’t invent the notebook or the tablet, they didn’t invent the Internet, they didn’t invent the music player or the video game, but they benefited from all these things.

Like Blanche DuBois, Microsoft has relied on the kindness of strangers.

I, Cringely

There’s a couple of errors with this reasoning. First, Macintosh desktop sales has been declining because Apple has provided very little value in its latest lines of desktops, and this while the world is going through a very strong financial crisis. I would suggest that the only way to actually see the desktop trending average would be to avoid the edges of the market and see what’s the “middle-class” buying.

Second, although i don’t disagree that most people will be perfectly satisfied with their pc-as-appliance model of tablets and smartphones in the future, Enterprise computer needs will remain stable for some sort of desktop computer, even if not some cumbersome power-hungry beast based around Intel’s x86 line.

Third, Microsoft is not “a person”, it’s a set of persons, which has changed a lot through out the times and it’s definitely not the same set of persons today than it was yesterday. Just because 30 years ago MS didn’t invented BASIC or the Operating System it certainly doesn’t mean that they will not invent something revolutionary and ground-breaking now.

Fourth, the whole argument is based on Ballmer being some sort of machiavellian genius of finance and business strategy. And that I have a very hard time believing…

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