The signs where always there, but how on earth did we miss them:
- Steve Ballmer throwing a chair across the room in anger, as he loses another valued employee to Google. Ballmer states: "$@#$* Eric Schmidt is a $#@% pussy. I’m going to #@$# bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to $#%@# kill Google.”
- Ballmer believes Zune can beat iPod "The market will have two big players for a long time, us and Apple,'' said Ballmer.
- The day of Apple's iPhone announcement, Ballmer decries the product stating; "$500, fully subsidized with a plan?! I said that is the most expensive phone in the world, and it doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine..."
- "We're in an iPad bubble...", windows tablets mimicking the iPad will soon debut, however, and they'll get "sleeker, smaller, and faster", Ballmer promised this on stage at the D8 Conference, in 2010...
- Alain Crozier, Chief Financial officer of Microsoft's Worldwide Sales, Marketing & Services Group is said to have put the kibosh on Microsoft's sales and marketing teams from purchasing Macs and iPads with corporate funds. On March 21st, TUAW claims to have received word back from a Microsoft spokesmen stating "No comment."
The is nearly endless, but the theme Microsoft and their CEO displays over and over is denial running on a foundation of pride. Microsoft's latest salvo of reducing the Apple presence in their sales and marketing forces only serves to inflict wounds on themselves. Ad agencies almost exclusively use Macs, iPads and iPhones. Another 46,000 Microsoft employees are now left to figure out how to work as efficiently with their agencies as they did with Apple to Apple products.
What's next for Microsoft? If they follow the ways of the Los Angeles City Council, they'll start banning the use of Apple-esque terms. "Using terms such as iPad, iPod, iTunes, Mac and Airplay, and other related terms associated with Apple products, can result in immediate termination". So would such a Redmond campus creed look like.
Detroit's "Big Three" once tried this approach, living in a world of pride and denial, ignoring facts that the Japanese were eating their lunch, left the major US automobile industries in shambles, resulting in 20 years of rebuilding their products and brands.
There is little doubt Microsoft is heading down the exact same path, refusing to learn from history. Microsoft will likely re-emerge once more, but in doing so it'll be under different leadership, ushering in massive change. From the ashes will rise a leaner company, engaging in areas of IBM dominance, not so much the consumer world. When Steve Jobs resurrected Apple, he didn't take on the Microsoft giant head on. Jobs had seen how that turned out for other players – not so well. Instead, Jobs focused on graphics, video editing, and esthetic, building a solid base, the core strengths of the company in which to build upon.
All bets are off, but over time Microsoft is likely to take the same re-emergent road, winding up in Corporate-ville, keen on grabbing hold of high margin segments and pecking away at other niche markets as they go. But any kind of visionary change for Microsoft is at best, years away.
Steve Ballmer continuing to run the show at Microsoft (may he stay forever), ensures nothing is going to change at Microsoft. Denial and a massive dose of pride will continue to infect the company, leaving them inept and unable to effectively compete against Apple and any other fast moving giant or newcomer.