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All posts tagged Steve Ballmer

Windows Phone Is Still Fighting…

Still there are many people out there who don’t see any future for it. Robert Scoble has never made bones about his belief that the app parity Windows Phone experiences is a huge factor in the small market share Microsoft has been able to garner and last he hammered the nail in again.

The truth is Microsoft made 3 substantial mistakes in their mobile strategy: –

  • Steve Ballmer’s famous quote about iPhone was the definitive moment for Microsoft mobile strategy for several years, leaving them way behind.
    • Failure to build a competitive developer community for apps where Startups with limited funds would make Windows Phone apps a part of their roadmap and strategy.
    • Microsoft once they realized these two mistakes were slow to iterate past Windows Mobile, which was “Let’s put Windows on a small screen.”
    • Twitter friend @gaborfari was kind enough last night to give me input on one more very important reason

What did Microsoft do right?

  1. Windows Phone and Metro UI. The Windows Phone UI and Live Tiles were a glorious change in smartphone UI/UX which influenced the designs of others. (Put a phone with Android’s Material Design next to a Windows Phone and tell me the word homage doesn’t occur).
  2. Reducing hardware restrictions for OEMs. By doing so and making Windows 10 free for 7″ and smaller devices Microsoft made it affordable for OEMs to invest in Windows Phone handsets.
  3. Windows 10 as a mature ecosystem. Windows 8 had issues and fighting for desktop and handsets was too bigger fight combined with the fragmentation of Windows 8, RT and Phone. Windows 10 is effectively one OS that behaves / responds based on the device it’s on.
  4. Universal Apps. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again) This may be the Holy Grail for app developers, one app that works on mobile and desktop.

Windows Phone - Universal Apps - Holy Grail

  1. Windows Phone as an Android ROM. Microsoft provided Xiaomi with a Windows 10 ROM for their flagship Android Mi4 handset to broach the Chinese market. By all accounts the experiment worked well. (Theoretically one could have a dual ROM Android / Windows Phone device should one desire the geek cred).

Windows Phone - ROM on Xiaomi Mi4

  1. Windows Phone hits India. Microsoft offered a variety of affordable handsets worldwide but especially in India. The Indian smartphone market is predominantly Android but several OEMs in India now make Windows Phones in addition to the Lumia line.

Is Robert Scoble Right?

He is correct that Microsoft needs to entice more developers onto the platform and I was hoping he was going to offer some insight on how he would do that. He seems convinced that the “market has already picked its phones”. Master blogger and marketing ace Hillel Fuld provides some insights in the comments to the Facebook post on how he thinks Microsoft might succeed.

There are a few factors that make the mobile market consistently volatile; go back a few years and tell people to kiss Nokia and Blackberry goodbye and you’d probably be laughed all the way home.

The things Microsoft did right tie together. Assaulting the Indian and Chinese markets shows that CEO Satya Nadella continues to employ his insights on untapped foreign markets. These markets are ripe not just for consumer handset ownership but also for building robust developer communities. He’s in India evangelizing to startups right now.

Universal Apps is huge and many Startups and larger companies are waking up to the fact. The sheer number of devices running Windows 10 is to be ignored at one’s peril. I know of several Startups who have realized this and are making the leap. Having one app that will allow you increase your user base on desktop and mobile?

Why would anyone invest in a company that ignores that kind of potential?

But it’s not just Startups, drone maker Parrot have advertised through their French offices for someone to run a project to outsource a Windows 10 Universal App and there are new Universal Apps appearing in the store every day.

Windows Phone - Parrot Universal App

Image courtesy of the official US Parrot Site.

Turning a disadvantage into an advantage: go to the iPhone App Store or Google Play Store and oversaturation isn’t the word. Getting noticed is a colossal endeavor but the disadvantage of Windows Phone means a huge opportunity as more and more developers build their Universal Apps before the Windows Store becomes oversaturated too.

Windows 10 Phones have rolled out some game changing features including Continuum and Hello. Continuum means your primary productivity device is your phone and all you need is a monitor and your Continuum dock.

The Warptest POV

I’ve been a Windows Phone user since Windows Mobile’s earliest days. I won’t deny that or the level of personal investment / passion. My new Lumia 950XL is being shipped to me over the holidays. Do I believe Robert Scoble is right or wrong? He’s right about one thing, it’s up to Microsoft whether they succeed in bringing more developers onboard or not.

That said, don’t just ask Developers who are strongly invested in the status quo about if radical change can succeed. The first line of attack is the startups. Microsoft needs to demonstrate the ROI of Universal Apps to those sitting on the fence. In addition, building stronger community, offering help to app developers and hosting events like Hackathons worldwide focused on getting new apps onto Windows Phone.

For what it’s worth, I’d be working just as hard on those learning to develop. Tomorrows app developers are just waiting and have a lot less baggage or prejudice. Microsoft needs a strong, active presence on campuses working with students to show them the potential of Windows Phone and at the same don’t wait for people to walk into Windows Stores in the US / UK, get out there and put Windows Phones into consumers’ hands to try out. People need their perception of Windows Phone to be shaken and then have them pass on that experience to their friends and family.

Hillel Fuld is correct when he writes that solving battery issues, screen fragility and other problems is another big way that Microsoft can increase market share.

Meanwhile Microsoft isn’t satisfied with the new phone it has. Rumors of a “spiritual equivalent to Surface” phone were (sort of) addressed by Microsoft’s CMO in an interview with Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley. Earlier rumors spoke of a Surface Phone and many hoped this meant a high-end phone, the gorgeous spun magnesium case with kickstand but then the big rumors began flying. This was going to be an Intel powered phone capable of running 32 bit apps. Your desktop in your pocket. Still this is unconfirmed as is the end of Q2 2016 arrival. Meanwhile with CES 2016 kicking off tomorrow there are sure to be other Windows Phone handsets announced.

When you look at all these factors I’m confident Microsoft is going to do amazing things in mobile. When the Lumia 950XL arrives I’ll be sure to share my impressions.

I’ll end by paraphrasing Mark Twain, “Reports of Windows Phone’s demise are greatly exaggerated.”

==================================

Moments ago I got a tweet from Hillel Fuld which indeed made me laugh. I’m comparing my thoughts on the subject to his and if you read this I recommend you read his post from 2012 on the subject (see embedded tweet for link) and follow him on Twitter and elsewhere for a stream of insightful content:

Steve Ballmer Gave A Classy Farewell …

… to his fellow Microsoft employees employing his usual and unique blend of humor, energy, enthusiasm and unrepentant love for Microsoft the company.

Tech blog The Verge posted the video here and if you haven’t seen this then take the time to watch Ballmer give a sincere farewell, choke back tears and succinctly explain just what and why he loves Microsoft so much.

Especially telling was his comment, “This isn’t about any one person. It’s about this company…” This came in response to Microsoft employees emotionally yelling from the audience how much they love Ballmer.

All the news surrounding Ballmer’s departure has done nothing to change my opinion and this video in some ways confirms the suspicions I voiced in this earlier post.

Steve vs Bill

When Bill Gates left the job of CEO of Microsoft, his departure video was markedly different. Gates self-deprecating sense of humor displays itself in this all-star cast video he made spoofing himself on his last day.

The cast spans Brian Williams, Matthew McConaughey, Bono, Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, Jon Stewart, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Al Gore, Steve Ballmer, Craig Mundie and Ray Ozzie.

Gates departure was a more overtly planned event which gave him the time to prepare this video which even contains him as X-Man Wolverine.

The Warptest POV

The differences in situation are clearly reflected in how each man chose his farewell. Even so the different personalities, humor and styles shine through these videos.

I’ve said it already and I will say it again. Having heard Steve Ballmer live in 2012 here in Israel I was wowed by his keynote at the Build event and regardless of alleged mistakes I will miss his hands-on leadership style and his incredible passion.

Will time reveal more about Ballmer’s departure from Microsoft? Almost certainly. The big question remains, who will be the person to replace Steve Ballmer as CEO?

Microsoft The Future…

As the saga unfolds of Steve Ballmer’s sudden retirement announcement and the tech blogs take wagers and polls over who the next CEO will be I have spent the past few days mulling my vision of where Microsoft should go from here.

Steve Ballmer

Who’s Up?

Many other blogs dealt with this issue already with reader’s polls and rampant speculation. One of my favorites is this conversation:

Microsoft - Bill Gates

Curiously no one has speculated on a come-back by Bill Gates. Still time will tell.

My Vision…

Imaging for a moment that I’m sitting being interviewed for the job. I had a thought about some of the things I would have to say …

Microsoft

  • It’s time for Microsoft to truly embrace Agility and not just in development. Microsoft can no longer be the turtle to their competitors’ rabbits: shorter cycles between iterations and not just keeping pace but setting the pace of innovation are a must: Windows 8.1 is a good example of the right way to do this.
  • Redmond allowed a molasses like pace in developing mobile, apps and tablets and even then as incredible as Windows 8 / Windows Phone 8 ecosystem are, the tasks of gaining traction and market share in these areas seems Sisyphusean.
  • Agility needs to be the defining factor in strategic decision making, but it needs a foundation of actionable intelligence on coming market trends in verticals Microsoft wishes to dominate.
  • Sustainable roadmaps for gaining this market share balanced with aggressive customer retention policies: Windows Phone 7.8 bones thrown to loyal consumers are not enough.
  • UI/UX and consumer usability testing of alpha versions not just rolled out to developer / blogger communities but to real world, end-user consumers. Their feedback counts more than anyone else’s.

Microsoft have made a colossal effort to rebrand since Windows Vista. Windows 8.1 (amongst other course corrections) indicates as I have said before that the company has become more responsive to consumer criticism. Whilst many of the marketing efforts deserve praise, just as often you are left wondering,

“What the heck were the marketing people thinking?”

Praiseworthy

Erm?

Maybe it’s time to rethink the sometimes combative marketing strategy and focus on a clear message that lets the products speak for themselves.

Microsoft has some of the most passionate, creative and inspiring people I have met or heard speak and I strongly rate their products for stability, function, quality, scalability and UX. I believe that Microsoft’s place in the market is not just as a strong competitor but also as an innovator who stimulates innovation in others. At the end of the day, the consumer benefits from this.

Not too long ago I tweeted this,

 

Yes this was my call to action for Microsoft but it applies to us all. We create solutions to challenges based on our pain or passion.

What’s your vision for the future?

Stephen and Steve Sign A Deal…

Sidebar: due to various technical issues I’m posting this about 6 hours after I wrote it. My good friend and tweep @brassman75 convinced me it was still worthwhile to do so. Thanks mate. <normal service is resumed from here>

…The internet is ablaze at Microsoft’s “surprising” deal to buy Nokia (Devices division and patents) for $7.2 Billion.

Stephen Elop Nokia Microsoft Let’s be honest, the only people surprised by this are <go ahead, fill in as appropriate>.

The other big comment I’m reading is how for an outgoing CEO Ballmer is certainly making sweeping changes for whoever fills his shoes between his reorganization and the Nokia acquisition.

090313_1642_StephenElop2.png

What’s It All About?

Ignoring the Trolls and H8ters for the moment the precedent exists with Google – Motorola but the important factor here is Steve Ballmer’s retirement announcement last week (at least IMHO).

  • Ballmer’s retirement wasn’t something spontaneous. He didn’t wake up last Thursday and think, “I’m going to announce my retirement tomorrow.”
  • Who do you think Ballmer would want as his replacement?
  • Rumors of Nokia looking towards Android have been floating around recently. I tweeted earlier today that this may have been Nokia’s crowbar to encourage Microsoft resistance to the purchase. (part of a much longer conversation, feel free to follow me on Twitter for that sort of thing @jonathanross)

Or perhaps Nokia said buy us or we r jumping from Windows Phone to Android?

— jonathanross (@jonathanross) September 3, 2013

 

  • Microsoft just got a complete line of Surface phones and a Phablet lock, stock and barrel in the Lumia line.
  • I haven’t seen the stats for the Nokia apps for Windows Phone but for sure, Microsoft gets an extremely experienced App Dev team, some great Apps and Nokia’s experience with their Ovi Store.
  • Acquisition of Nokia patents and licensing must be a big factor in this deal too.

Cui Bono

Assuming that Steve Ballmer is concerned about the state he leaves Microsoft in, has a hand in picking his successor and that Stephen Elop is one of the candidates under consideration (besides me LOL) then this deal was a strategic move by Elop worthy of Patton or Monty. Clearly this demonstrates his CEO worthiness.

stephen elop

One has to wonder how long the acquisition has been in the works and if Ballmer hasn’t ensured with Stephen Elop who the next CEO of Microsoft, their vision for Microsoft, will be.

The Warptest POV

If this is actually the case and Stephen Elop is going to be the next CEO of Microsoft then let me say to him, “Welcome back and congratulations.”

I have strong expectations of great things for Microsoft and not just in the mobile arena.

However, Microsoft has some big changes to make and it’s not as simple as just absorbing Nokia products, practices and patents, Redmond purchased along with all that some of the problems that plagued Nokia over the last few years.

What do you think?

Steve BallMER JUST ANNOUNCED HIS RETIREMENT…

News broke via the Microsoft News webpage that Microsoft CEO Ballmer intends to take retirement in 2014.

steve ballmer

This not long after his decision and subsequent Move Forward memo to make some drastic reorganization and strategic change at Microsoft.

Last year I was lucky enough to hear him speak in person at the Microsoft Israel Build 2012 event and I went away once again impressed by what he brought to his keynote.

Besides those whose daily dose of Redmond Rant welcomes this, a lot of people are asking why now? Why so soon after the Move Forward memo?

The Warptest POV

I was struck by the level of commitment Steve Ballmer has for Microsoft, the energy and drive he has and whilst not all his decisions led to the best outcome, it truly seems that Ballmer is that CEO to learn from; one who seems truly committed to the best for his company.

The aberrant blip on the radar after the Move Forward memo was the class action lawsuit instituted for shareholders against Microsoft and several senior executives regarding the Surface RT.

This is what you see in Windows 8 Finance App if you take a look at Microsoft Stock:

Steve Ballmer - Microsft Stock PriceThis is pure speculation on my part but is there a connection between the lawsuit and Ballmer’s retirement? If so I suspect the lawsuit may quietly be settled out of court.

Regardless of whether this is correct or not. I for one am going to miss Steve Ballmer and I’m extremely curious to see who ends up replacing him as CEO.

Do you have any guesses for new CEO?