Forget Too Big to Fail, Is Microsoft Too Big to Succeed?
Although it may seem as though it has always been there, Microsoft is still not 40 years old. From the incredibly humble beginnings of 2 employees and less than $20,000 in sales in 1975, Microsoft is now the world’s largest software maker and one of the world’s top 10 most valuable companies.
However, things are not all rosy in Redmond. With the resignation of Steve Ballmer, often blamed for Microsoft’s seeming stagnation of the past decade or so, Microsoft must now find a new candidate to lead the company in these very uncertain times.
Yes, Microsoft needs someone to lead the company rather than just try to manage it. Basically, Microsoft has been without any real leadership since Bill Gates stepped away from day-to-day operations in very early 2000.
Yes, Microsoft is the 7th largest company in the world. Yes, Microsoft still maintains an overwhelmingly dominant position in the computer operating system market. Yes, Microsoft has something like $60 KATRILLION in cash. Looking at the numbers, things must be great, right?
Well, maybe not so much.
Microsoft has been lagging beyond Apple (iOS) and Samsung (Google Android) in the smart phone and table markets almost since those markets came into existence. From the trailing position, Microsoft continues to make things worse with each new OS generation. To address this problem, Microsoft has chosen to buy Nokia’s mobile device business so that they too can sell their own phones with their own OS on them.
Microsoft has morphed into something so much more than just an operating system software company. They have several software product divisions, including Windows, Servers, and Business Systems. They have a whole host of web-based systems and services. They even have entertainment product suites, like the XBOX device family and software games series like Halo.
Now, Microsoft is adding the mobile devices from Nokia. Can all of this comes together to build a stronger company? Will one of these divisions be allowed to reach its full potential even if it threatens one of the other divisions? Can Microsoft capture the spirit that made them great in the first place?
Under the new leadership, Microsoft needs to get back into shape as a company. They need discipline, focus and the daily attention to detail that made them into what they used to be rather than the current series of half-steps that has brought them to where they are now.
Only time will tell if Microsoft’s “middle-age” (it turns 40 in about 18 months) growth will be happy and healthy as it trims off some fat and learns some new exercises and skills. OR, if that growth will be sad and soft as it continues to just eat other companies in a desperate attempt to capture the vigor and relevance of its younger days.