If there's a job more thankless than leading Microsoft's perpetually loss-making online business operations, it's running the Redmond unit that handles Windows Mobile and Xbox. When consumer gadgets were flying off the shelves last Christmas, Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices unit actually saw sales drop — by 10 per cent. …
that took Microsoft into the hardware business
No, Microsoft was in the hardware business with the Z80 Apple II Sotftcard plus CP/M. Then there were the mice, and the keyboards. While they didn't build the MSX machines themselves they did specify them, just like they don't build the XBox themselves.
Makes me feel old
Wow. I remember CP/M and the Z80 card. I had an Apple IIe. Computers I used at the time were an odd collection- IBM PC desktops, Tandy TRS-80, Nascom II, Commodore PET, Apple II, PDP8e, LSI-11 etc. Not to mention using IBM card punches and cards for mainframes.
Seamus Blackley perhaps should get more credit than J Allard for creating the xbox. Of course Blackley had the sense to quit a long time ago.
Ballmer now been CEO for decade
"chief executive Steve Ballmer is taking control of E&D"
Well that's going to turn it around and make it all fine then ...
I'm being too cynical, but it doesn't sound like there's much innovation left in the upper echelons of MS management. Business savy, yes, but technical foresight, not so much. Shame. As much as I rant and rave about the poor quality of MS and Windows, Billg still did a pretty good job of getting it developed and getting it sold. Now MS seems drifting without a rudder - nobody gives a shit about Windows or Office sales anymore - their sales numbers are about as interesting as US Savings Bonds sales. MSSQL server is getting bogged down in layer after layer of useless crap and horrible admin interfaces designed by Mrs. Williams' third-grade art class. Windows CE/Mobile is slowly losing its wheels. Bing is ultimately destined for the same Clearance Rack -75% off- that Zune is gathering dust on now. Xbox is the only semi-sexy thing they have left and they just nearly fubared that with the RROD problem and the horrible disc-scratching issue. Looks like stagnation has set in.
Steve Jobs, agrees with you...
BusinessWeek interview with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, 12 October 2004:
Steve Jobs: Apple had a monopoly on the graphical user interface for almost 10 years. That's a long time. And how are monopolies lost? Think about it. Some very good product people invent some very good products, and the company achieves a monopoly. But after that, the product people aren't the ones that drive the company forward anymore. It's the marketing guys or the ones who expand the business into Latin America or whatever. Because what's the point of focusing on making the product even better when the only company you can take business from is yourself? So a different group of people start to move up. And who usually ends up running the show? The sales guy... Then one day, the monopoly expires for whatever reason. But by then the best product people have left, or they're no longer listened to. And so the company goes through this tumultuous time, and it either survives or it doesn't.
BusinessWeek: Is this common in the industry?
Steve Jobs: Look at Microsoft -- who's running Microsoft?
BusinessWeek: Steve Ballmer.
Steve Jobs: Right, the sales guy. Case closed.
Word on the street
Is this is the lead up to Microsoft wrapping up their ventures in hardware and gaming and a return to core business of software.
Lets face it Zune and Xbox have been MASSIVE flops for Microsoft financially ($9bn losses on Xbox development, NVIDIA litigation, 360 Development and RROD)
It's all relative
Not as big a flop as their web businesses though, and every other division other than (desktop) Windows and Office lose money too.
Microsoft pulling out of the console business is as likely as Sony doing the same because of the massive losses of the PlayStation division; it ain't gonna happen.
"just one generation"?
Oh boy, you're another one of these longtermists, from the Kool-Aid and Hairspray department, aren't you? We'll eat this, Mr Longterm, your figures conveniently bury around ten to fifteen billion in additional write-off costs, and best guesses put it at fifteen to twenty years, before this 'investment' has paid for itself - assuming nothing changes, and Microsoft can hold that market share.
Hooray for you, you drove a loss-making games console from a company with a train wreck of a PR record into third place in the market after "just a generation". Well, the United States went from killing each other with grape shot, to dropping atom bombs on people, within just one generation so I guess it's amazing what waiting years and years for something to happen can achieve.
How's Wireless Server coming along, by the way?
"Steve Ballmer is taking control of E&D."
This should be good for a laugh!
With Ballmer in charge is the next version of the games console going to be called the sweatBox?
/Mines with the one with the banner marked Ha Ha in the pocket!
Wanted: Redmond Base: Head Honcho for NeuReal Division: No Time and Space Wasters please.
"..and chief executive Steve Ballmer is taking control of E&D. If history is any teacher, Mattrick or Lees will be promoted to the head of E&D — unless the group is re-orged out of existence."
There is always the possibility of Steve bringing in fresh new virgin blood and a new head to effectively re-org the group into another existence to make better use of company assets/product penetration. Someone able to Sublimely Create a Dynamic Global Products Interactive Capture for XBox to Parallel Mimic in Great Game Games for Mobile Platforms to Share via Servered Communications with Global Operating Devices would be Novel and raise the Microsoft Profile somewhat above the Bottom Line which only merely follows Innovation rather than leading it with IT, or leading IT with it.
Perhaps they should buy Google
After all it's only a website - right Steve.
Why they allow Ballmer to come to work is beyond me. The man's got none of the attributes needed to hold down even a cleaning job over there.
I'll drink to that.
Ballmer in charge of the xBox ?
Say it ain't so.
Microsoft can't DO hardware
Microsoft never have been able to do hardware properly and the X-Box is a good demonstration of that generic failing. You only have to look at the various forums to see what sort of problems people have with X-Box and I seem to remember it even featured on BBC's "Watchdog" program.
No, Microsoft - stick to software, but stop producing disasters like Windows ME and Vista. Listen to those who test it, NOT your bean counters screaming for more revenue from inadequately tested products.
I rather like MS "Natural" style keyboards :P
Can't do hardware...really?
Admittedly the XBox has had its share of hardware problems, but I've always found Microsoft's keyboards and mice rather spiffing - although they do represent significantly less advanced tech than a games console.
Their trackballs - now no longer sadly produced - were some of the best pointing devices I had the pleasure to use.
Yes they can!
They do mice reasonably well
One day, this will make a very good book
"What the Hell Happened to Microsoft?" New Riders, 600 pages, hardback (10% discount for Kindle version)
People like Bach will doubtless write some of the key chapters, but the editor will definitely be that 'Minimsft' guy (and won't it be nice to finally get to find out Who da'Punk really is? - like discovering that the writers of Ashes-to-Ashes actually did have a point).
Why do they bother?
Honestly, they should spend all their time making a better OS and applications. They make all their money from Windows and Office still, so why go into other markets and make no money?
re: It's all relative
Playstation as a brand is VERY profitable for Sony. The PS3 is now profitable, and it's paid back most of it's development costs. It's development costs were much lower than Microsoft's because the development costs were shared across other products like their other BD players, and other Cell based devices.
If you say so fanboi
However, Sony's annual reports paint a different story of what you call a "very profitable" brand.
Sony lost $3-billion on PlayStation division from 2006 to 2008; the firm made an overall loss of $1bn last year which it has narrowed to $0.44bn this year, and although PlayStation division made a couple of quid (big portion of which was still PS2) it's going to take a long long time to break-even on historic losses of PS3.
Pseudo-pedant pursues proper use of "past time" and "pass time"
> Re-org is one of Microsoft's favorite past times, and the summer is high season for such activities.
In the past, a pass-time I enjoyed was remarking on the grammar or spelling of someone's blog post or response. That, of course, was long in the past and it quickly came to pass that I (like other pseudo-pedants) was roundly criticized (negatively) for not passing on a simple human frailty. Nevertheless, as a resident of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan (living "below" the Mackinaw Bridge and therefore an Troll in ways that someone from a land-locked polity can never aspire to), I must make comment on your usage of "past time".
The law of inevitability ...
"... and therefore an Troll in ways ..."
logs splinters and all that ... that's all... ;)
Pity the word is actually pastime
Pass-time? an Troll?
Pot, Kettle. Kettle, Pot.
same days that this news hits Apple surpasses Microsoft on stock market
Could this news have something to do with it? Or does the guy really want to retire? Its getting crazy out there now. Fanbois on all sides will be screaming :)
It's Official: Apple Is Now Worth More Than Microsoft
- Vid Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
- Hi-torque tank engines: EXTREME car hacking with The Register
- Review What's MISSING on Amazon Fire Phone... and why it WON'T set the world alight
- Antique Code Show World of Warcraft then and now: From Orcs and Humans to Warlords of Draenor
- Product round-up Trousers down for six of the best affordable Androids