Friday, January 15, 2010

Microsoft: Please surrender, already.

Why is Microsoft stock following the same trajectory as Apple and Google?  Apple is poised to re-monetize the entire print media business, and Google has so many green field opportunities in front of it, it feels comfortable in threatening to leave the world's single largest market.  Meanwhile in Redmond, the failures just keep piling up:
  • Bing is proving to be an absolute waste of 127 million dollars, with the highly pumped initiative actually LOSING marketshare months after launch. 
  • Windows Mobile had a three year lead on every other major mobile platform yet it already seems like a bygone era of computing. 
  • Zune is so last year, it's rediculous.
  • XBox is still the dominant game platform and media room gateway appliance.  But MS has practically layed out the red carpet for competitors by announcing that they have no new hardware planned for that space in the foreseeable future.
  • Xbox Live Marketplace can't find a single movie to sell me worth watching.  Downloading a movie from there takes about a DAY! 
  • Windows operating system is under threat from Chrome.
  • Tablet support, which MS perfected to an extreme well beyond any market demand is about to be tipped over the cliff by whatever Apple tablet gets announced in upcoming weeks.
  • Sharepoint continues to be a half-pregnant idea with lots of potential.  But the potential is being eaten up by third-parties.  It looks like MS has basically thrown in the towel on this one.   
So what should MS do?  Here's my 2-cents:
  1. Get a new president.  Sorry, Balmer, but no one deserves an eighth chance.
  2. Focus on the enterprise.  The brand name is too tarnished in the consumer space and you clearly lack the innovation skills needed to hit a home run here.  Give it up. 
  3. Spin off Xbox.  Otherwise you might accidentally "fix" it.
  4. Buy RIM and DON'T rebrand it.  Don't even visit.
  5. Right-size your assets.  Given your thin competencies, you have more cash than you appropriately invest . Offer generous dividends to your shareholders or find other ways of returning capital to investors before you simply burn through it. 
  6. Integrate a hardware and software solution that creates the ideal corporate work solution.  Make a One-Note appliance that is light, cheap, secure and pen-based.

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