Microsoft's chief executive has come very close to telling investors he screwed up after years of writing off, belittling and underestimated Apple's potential success in touch-based computing. Steve Ballmer told Wall Street he's under no illusion about Apple's success with the iPad and iPhone, and Microsoft's number-one priority …
Microsoft doomed in mobile
Microsoft was previously losing sleep trying to catch up to iPhone, using its Windows Phone 7.
Now it looks like Microsoft has abandoned WP7 in the slate market, and is now "losing sleep" trying to fit some other OS into a slate form factor.
Why doesn't Microsoft have any confidence in its existing mobile OS (WP7), on the eve of release, to abandon it in mobile slates and use something else instead?
Madness. Complete utter madness. Stay away from the coming train wreck.
His tongue is hanging out again.
Windows has been a lemon since day one.
> we have the application base, we have the user familiarity
No you don't, Mr Ballmer. New form-factor, new application interface required, new hardware architecture. You've got almost nothing except an installed management server base.
Even if MS do manage to get something out, there'll be some schizophrenia about who MS's customers are - businesses (MS' usual customers) making the devices locked down, centrally managed and thus undesirable or the end-users. I know apple lock down their devices, but end-users don't see too much of that - any ipad can do what any other ipad can do. Now compare your home pc to your corporate SOE.
If MS do manage to leverage the windows brand onto the device, there will be disappointment as my windows pad fails to do everything my desk/laptop can do and as apps are inappropriately ported to the device.
They don't have the apps. Some peripheral things like Money have been ditched.
Also, when I ran Windows systems at home I spent a not inconsiderable amount of time downloading and trying various freeware or shareware systems to try and do the bits and pieces that I wanted to do. Once some became popular, they started charging and when I would next rebuild the OS, I'd have to find some new applications yet again.
If there is one thing that Apple provides that Microsoft doesn't, it is a machine with a useable set of basic productivity ability right out of the box.
Whenever I rebuilt one of my Windows machine (sans Ghost) it would take all day. Now, with Ubuntu and the separation of the home directory, it takes about an hour to get the OS on, patched and all my applications loaded via a long apt-get. And no messing about with registration keys and serial numbers.
Microsoft has a long ... long ... long way to go before they deliver an acceptable user experience with applications that work and/or respond.
We've got the software, We've got the bloat
Where an iPad seems to score over Windows based netbooks is that it is smaller and lighter. I guess the OS it runs is also smaller and lighter.
Perhaps we have finally reached a point where their are enough people who are happy to buy a device which isn't a general purpose computer that can run all their apps from their desktop and laptops. So unless they can slim Windows down to a point where they can compete with the iPad in terms of size, weight and battery life and still offer good enough performance then this will be a market segment they will have missed.
Personally I'd be happy to not have either and iPad nor Windows, but I can see why each appeal to some others.
But I've felt that for years there was likely to be a huge demand for something simpler than a full blown WIndows PC. Plenty of non IT people just want a few simple apps, web, email simple WP and spreadsheet. full stop, end of story. A Windows box is too complex for this market place.
Not many people start off with a new computer wondering how good the assembler is these days.
Can Microsoft catch up to Apple?
It's too Zune to tell.
Indeed, well see Zune enough
But it's still good to get a fire going under Microsoft's ass. Hell, it's good to start one under everyone's ass (Android, Linux, etc.). Competition can be excellent for innovation. And who knows, maybe someone will come up with something bright and new.
He really is a colossal doofus
"Interesting job of putting together synthesis"
Seriously, can someone just tell him that talking like this is the reason MS is in such a shit hole?
"You will get a lot of cacophony, people do things with other operating systems, but we have the application base, we have the user familiarity, we have everything on our side"
NO, Steve, no you *don't* have everything on your side. In one fell swoop he's repeated exactly the same dismissal of a competitor that he's supposed to be issuing a mea culpa for, and at the same time has demonstrated how far removed from reality he is by saying that 'user familiarity' (with WIndows, presumably?) is a positive for them.
If they ship anything that looks like Windows on a touch device then they've failed.
"... with a promise you're now committed to catching up."
Funny, I said that just yesterday:
-- Comments: Microsoft biz stars won't shine in Wall Street web show
Any chance for a footnote? ;-)
Windows Slate Forever
The release date is "when it's done".
Comes bundled with...
...free copy of Duke Nukem Forever.
Wait, run this by me again?
Tablets running Windows XP or 7 were out long before the iPad was even announced. And the plan is to freshen up Windows 7 on tablets, and possibly make them cheaper or smaller? If that were really the problem, wouldn't netbooks have kept iPads at bay, instead of iPads making large enough an impact to concern Ballmer?
Of course, if they were to use a UI designed for something that doesn't have a keyboard and mouse attached, they couldn't claim user familiarity or software base, so maybe it's willful ignorance.
"Tablets running Windows XP or 7 were out long before the iPad was even announced."
There's quite a big difference between XP and 7, particularly on tablets, and a severe lack of under-£1000 tablets using either properly. A tablet is very much a personal computing device, and £1000 is too much. The Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium was available with Vista Business Edition for $1449, in 2008, which I think was around £725 then, but wasn't available in Britain.
XP evidently is cheaper for PC manufacturers, but its "Tablet Edition", with the same handwriting and speech recognition features that are standard in Windows 7 and Windows Vista although you may not have noticed, maybe isn't so affordable - and has strict design rules. So manufacturers took to offering tablet computers as netbooks with Windows XP Home!
I agree that XP and 7 are quite different...
But it's a difference between versions 5.1 and 7 of the same product. It's an incremental improvement but does not rewrite the rules. The start button's in the same place. The task bar (Now with icons instead of text) is in the same place, the windows are the same shape, close button's the same place, scroll bars the same functionality, etc, etc, etc.
I think that handwriting and speech recognition are red herrings. The iPad has no handwriting, save for writing some alternate asian keyboards, and the speech recognition is mostly by the wayside and is hardly even considered when it comes to the iPad. One could argue that even XP's speech and handwriting offerings are superior.
Price is a factor, bit I don't think it's the only factor. The entire thing seems of "Hey! They're doing what we've been doing for 10 years, but they're doing it different and succeeding! Let's keep doing what we've been doing for 10 years, but make it cheaper, it's bound to work!"
“Microsoft's number-one priority is now to deliver touch-based computing pads running Windows 7 and that people want”.
How can you run WIndows 7 and be the one that people want at the same time?
I guess they are ditching their previous "number-one priority" as the security initiative. I guess it was too hard.
"...to deliver products that people really want to go buy."
...like the Zune.
Too little, too late.
Microsoft is the new Novell. Novell was once the 800lb gorilla of networking, and then along came Microsoft to relegate them to relative obscurity. Novell dropped the ball, stopped innovating, and Microsoft produced a good-enough clone with just enough added blue crystals to take the lead. (It didn’t help that Microsoft isn’t inclined to play fair, but what company playing at that level ever is?)
Today, we are witnessing the death of the Microsoft client operating system. While it has the bulk of the market share in desktops and notebooks, this is largely a product of inertia. The constant game of “me too” and “catch up” has produced an impending death by a thousand cuts. Apple, Google and others, (Palm/HP for example) are simply out-innovating Microsoft while producing solutions that developers can live with and customers actually enjoy.
Microsoft has already lost the smartphone wars; nothing short of divine intervention will change that. The war for the tablet might be over before it even begins; we are about to enter into the Christmas season with no evidence of either an Android or Windows tablet that doesn’t royally suck in sight. While I’m not 100% sure, I suspect that being allowed to go unchallenged for an entire year is more than enough for Apple to establish itself as the king of this particular hill, capable of fending off all challengers handily.
So what’s left, the desktop? Traditional notebooks? I am sure there will always be a call for these, maybe even a fairly significant one. With VDI, cloud computing and a slew of credible alternative operating systems on offer, Microsoft stands to see a dramatic reduction in market share over the next decade. Apple has always been too expensive to realistically consider as a competitor for the desktop/notebook space, but Linux (in the form of Android, MeeGo, WebOS or ChromeOS) might finally be ready to start eating the low end.
Do your thin clients need to run Windows embedded? Once your corporate applications are recoded as SaaS apps deliverable through a browser, can’t at least some of those desktops be some flavour of Linux? Does Aunt Tilly require a home PC with a 350W+ PSU running Windows to heat her living room just so she can use Facebook and Gmail?
I don’t ask these questions or make these comments to attract flames, and I am not saying that this will all happen tomorrow. I am saying that in my opinion, over the next ten years, Microsoft will slowly fade out of the /client computing/ scene. I fully expect them to remain a server superpower, but I would be willing to bet that their desktop operating system versions will be used only by people requiring what we used to call “workstations” and by enthusiasts.
The real problem is the bloat. Microsoft couldn’t make a competitive operating system even if they got rid of Ballmer. The new black are these operating systems that can run cheerily on a 500Mhz processor with less than 512 MB of RAM. They are thin, light, have their own app store and will give the non-power-user all the computer they want in a package that eats less than 5 watts fully loaded.
Microsoft’s best embedded operating systems don’t even come close, nor do they get the kind of love or attention the flagship product does. If Microsoft wants to survive, then it’s time to say goodbye to the NT platform. NT is great for workstations, gamers or other demanding users…but until they can bring a credible lightweight operating system out as their mainstream they are cooked.
They could front something based on Windows CE (or buy Novell and just birth a mobile Linux like sane people,) but it’s more than just the OS. If you look at the gong show that is Windows Phone 7 they are so culturally indoctrinated into the idea of “copy the competition” they are not only copying the positive aspects (such as an app store) but the brutal mistakes (such as lack of copy/paste, lack of full multitasking, walled gardens, etc.)
If Microsoft want to play in so many different pools at once, they need to be capable of making products that are excellent on their own, interoperate beautifully with other Microsoft products but also interoperate with products from other companies. (Remember that they are competing not against Apple or Google…but the entire largely cross-compatible Linux/UNIX ecosystem.)
They lack two critical elements to pull off all of the above. The first is someone with a grand unifying vision that truly has the depth of scope necessary to understand how all of Microsoft’s offerings contribute to each other and thus to the whole. The second is management capable of actually executing and doing so on tight deadlines.
In the meantime, I will continue to wait around for a sub-$1000 tablet with 1366x768, SD card slot, USB and that either allows me to install whatever or want or can be easily rooted. Will Microsoft be capable of delivering, or will Android get there first?
To be fair, I liked the Windows 2000 series. I thought that it was a nice compromise of size, features and speed.
And it was ruined by having the 9* bloat imported and becoming XP.
Still amazes me when people say XP is any good - they obviously haven't used Ubuntu or MacOS.
I completely agree. Windows 2000 was the best.
The Poor Relation
It's always great to hear what Microsoft is going to do. Back in the 90s it mattered...
"touch-based computing pads running Windows 7 and that people want"
Good luck with that boys.
Say, haven't you clowns been pushing touchscreen tablets now for nigh on 10 years with nothing much at all to show for it? What makes you think you will do any better now?
Oh, that's right, apple has shown you how to do it properly.
Nevertheless, I still expect you and the rest of your pathetic bunch of cargo cultists will still manage to get it totally wrong anyhow.
He still doesn't get it
/rant After all this time, the best plan for the future of Microsoft that Ballmer can come up with is, "What's the popular kids doing? Me too!"? Pathetic.
Here's a thought: Why not put those billions of dollars and thousands of engineers, programmers, and (gag) marketeers to work identifying an under-explored, under-developed niche in the market, then design a user friendly toy to fill that gap?
Otherwise, the only future view for Microsoft is the hind end of the competition running off with the market because you're totally focused on chasing them instead of innovating. (BTW, look that word up, you use it a lot, but I don't think it means what you think it means)
Oh yeah, putting your fingers in your ears and shouting "LALALA!" every time open source is mentioned, just because you can't buy it or bury it, ain't what the cool kids are doing either.
Disclaimer: I'm not a fan boy of any particular company or movement, I use what does the job I want to do, no matter who makes it. But I'm tired of this one particular git, who's spent the entire century, so far, wrecking an entire company and hindering an entire industry in the process. /end rant
Balmer is arrogant and that's their nemesis
This is hillarious. I remember years ago I had the "privelege" of being allowed to address questions to Steven Balmer at a presentation on SQL Server, this was around 1999. I asked questions relating to the rise of Linux. Mr. Balmer's response was to laugh Linux off. Only 2 years later he was singing a completely different tune.
Balmer is arrogant, and this is shown again with Microsoft lagging behind the rest of the industry with regards to the mobile platform. Just because you are a big industry player doesn't mean that a smaller bird can knock you off your perch. If Microsoft isn't careful, this arrogance will lead to their downfall.
Same old same old from Microsoft
As is always the case: somebody demonstrates there's a market and then microsoft moves in and buys their way into competitiveness. This may be more difficult, as their smartphone effort demonstrates, though.
"He tried to re-assert the supremacy of the PC as a general computing device, saying people struggled with their iPads for typing".
If he thinks tablets are for typing, then there is fail right there. I already have a laptop for typing thanks.
"...we have the application base, we have the user familiarity, we have everything on our side if we do things really right,"
On Windows Phone 7 or on tablets, they pretty much have no application base right now, nor any user familarity unless they are intending to put the Win7 desktop UI onto a portable device. So I think not only are they not doing things right, they are not even in the right frame of mind to do so.
Wake Me Up!
Wake me up before you go-go
Apple leaves me hanging on like a yo-yo
Wake me up before you go-go
I don't want to miss it when Andriods hit that high
Wake me up before you go-go
'Cause I'm plannin' on going solo
Wake me up before you go-go
Take me developing tonight
I wanna hit that high (yeah, yeah)
The New Windows theme.
I see no evidence that Ballmer gets it
I'm still not convinced that Balmer gets it. To wit:
The Start button is as bad an idea on a tablet as it was on a smartphone.
Betting on faster and faster hardware compensating for 20 years of ever increasing bloat and kludges works right up until the market shifts to lower cost, lower power, lower performance hardware. At which point you may very well end up with nothing to sell and not enough development time to start over.
And before you even bring it up, the inability of your main operating system to run acceptably on lower performance hardware can not be alleviated by renaming and redeploying WinCE. It has a similar interface to Windows, which fails on touch interfaces (see first point above) and it doesn't run Windows applications, which fails on Ballmer's objective to leverage the MS application base. The worst of both worlds.
What MS needs is to start over with a new OS and a new paradigm specifically engineered for low power touch screen gadgets. Instead, they try to shoehorn one of their existing products into the new hardware platform no matter how inappropriate, betting on the "Windows" name to see them through. They just barely wrestled the netbook market away from Linux by giving XP another year to live and by redefining "netbook" as having enough resources to run XP, which, parenthetically, blurred the lines between "netbook" and "low end laptop" to the detriment of the things that made netbooks interesting -- price, portability, battery longevity.
In other words, Microsoft will win the tablet war by redefining a tablet as a pricy, rather awkward laptop that you can only really use effectively with the optional keyboard and mouse. Who knows, they might even succeed.
Does Ballmer get it?
"...but we have the application base, we have the user familiarity..."
I wonder if Blamer really gets what a threat Android and Chrome are going to be to his "application base and user familiarity". Users are already spending more time with portable devices (smartphones) and less time with traditional PCs. For many the smartphone is their first computing device.
What would you you rather have, applications, data and a UI that seamlessly follow you from your phone to your tablet to your desktop to your car to just about anyplace else you want to go, or a radically differing (and data crippled) experience on each device you use?
Google's strategy is absolute genius. Android and Chrome devices are thin clients, effectively connected to the Google "LAN". All the heavy lifting and data storage is happening on the back end, allowing them to offer sophisticated apps that would never run on a portable device with its limited processing, power and storage resources. Google clearly understands how to exploit the presentation layer segregation; they've built a massive back end to support it, and they're just getting warmed up.
Toss in the fact that they make so damned much money on a completely different business model that benefits from every user that connects to their LAN, practically guaranteeing the thin client and apps will remain free or heavily subsidized for the foreseeable future, and it won't be long before no one cares about a Windows OS (or any OS for that matter), so long as you can plug into that glorious back end and all those free* apps - and oh yeah, all your data.
I'm struggling to see how MS can compete without duplicating the Goggle model, and I wonder if it's too late to matter. I'm even beginning to wonder the same about Apple. The functional and aesthetic gap between Android and iOS devices shrinks with every Android release.
Windows 7 Phone? By the time it's mature enough to actually be useful the game will have long been over.
And Steve's worried about catching the iPad.
* Only free in return for your privacy, but that's another argument I'm afraid most users who want free stuff don't care one bit about.
re, Plugging into Google's glorious backend
Didn't Google 'open source' their glorious backend, or parts of it? Or maybe they shaped it up from open-source in the first place (I may be wrong or confused here, but I'll get to my point.....)
For corporate use, a large enough organisation can set up its own glorious backend and have it's employees plug into it, over site LAN, internet and via-mobile connection. Privacy problem solved as far as data retention and analysis go. I'm assuming that all this is available as FOSS in the first place, needing only minor tweaking and customising to suit.
Is anybody doing this or looking into it? (Or have I totally lost the plot?)
Because we all watched how the iPod was crushed by the Zune, and the iPhone was obliterated by the updated WinMob. Oh, er, wait.
Ballmer, young people don't LIKE your BRAND, and nothing is going to change that.
Your day in the sunny is now overcast, and I see storm clouds rolling in.
I love Apple. Their products are amazing. From their desktops, to their Macbooks, the iPad, iPod and and the amazing iPhone 4 they deserve all of their success. I am a proud iPad owner and a Macbook Pro owner and planning on getting the iPhone 4 within a month or so. I have never been disappointed with any of their products. I never came across the problem like other ppl say, and watching movies on the go with ifunia converter to iPad is really fun :)
Here we go again
Redmond, start your photocopiers!!
a little knowledge is a dangerous thing
Steve may realize that MS has seriously missed the wave that Apple has been riding. For him and MS, that's good - they're past denial.
Part 2 is the hard one - what the hell are you (Steve) going to do about it??
Don't say "Windows 7" because we all know that's a non-starter on portable devices until it has had a massive re-work. If you have been building a super-sekrit "Slim-Fast" Win 7 then great. But I doubt it. And it is by no means clear that WinPhone7 will be any better received than, well, KIN.
Ball's in your court. Enjoy the match :)
Well that's good news for Google
Look at the list of products and technologies Microsoft executives have 'dismissed' over the years;
The Internet ('clunky' was the term used as I recall), Netscape (yes MS killed them, but that resulted in the creation of Firefox), Google (mind you Microsoft weren't the only ones to dump on the Borg...Google collective), Palm (who practically started the PDA thing as we know it), iTunes, iPhone, iPad....
And now Balmer is dismissing Android and Chrome? Google (Your data will be indexed and added to our own. Resistance is futile...) must be overjoyed....
Windows 7 problem ?
I thought the whole problem with Windows and tables (et al) was that Windows wasn't suitable for touch input. So surely it's more a MS/Software problem, then a hardware problem ?
Balmer also said (about Windows for smartphones): "...but we have the application base..." er, but isn't Windows 7 mobile going to require a re-write of all applications ? So, so far, you have zero applications ?
Can't wait for Microsoft's Ipad killer to slaughter the opposition the way that Zune (remember Zune?) didn't demolish the Ipod.
Head up his arse
The CEO equivalent of putting his fingers in his ears and going lalalalalalala
Prerelease spoiler announcements, again?
MS have lost this one, unless they manage to pull an elephant-sized rabbit out of their hat. And by insisting on Win7 and "brand familiarity", that means they're off hunting elephants in the Gobi Desert. Rather than trying to "spoil" the already burgeoning market of tablets, they need to drop a bombshell. They just about managed it with netbooks, but it probably ain't gonna work with tablets / smartbooks.
Apple understood that mobile computing is different to desktop computing, that although you might use the same underlying OS you need a radically different UI. Shame all they have produced is something for consuming pre-produced media, rather than a real, radically different, portable computer. It's not like they already had one of those at the tail end of the 90's or anything...
With Android, Google have produced a half-way-decent mobile phone OS that doesn't scale to anything other than mobile phones. Anyone other than the most rabid Android geek using it for a significant amount of time on a tablet is gonna get driven to the iPad. It's like an iPad, but slower, and shitter - once you cut away the phone specifics, it's really poo, especially on the lower end of the hardware scale.
Chrome might work if you are permanently "connected", but it's still a "desktop" metaphor, for all it's "cloudy" aspirations.
I predict MS will attempt to make Win7 look a bit like iOS without making any real changes to usability (as per WinCE / Win Mobile). Shame, as they have some killer technologies, and might even have something usable floating around in a skunklabs project somewhere. The main problem with MS at the moment is that Ballmer doesn't have the vision to run a corner shop, let alone a software company.
Platform for consuming media
"Shame all they have produced is something for consuming pre-produced media, rather than a real, radically different, portable computer."
While I would agree with you that iOS devices are currently *mainly* used for pre-produced media consumption (mind you, I think that's a huge market), I think you might find that things are starting to move towards other uses including media creation, witness the plethora of music-making apps (from virtual instruments to matrix synths, sequencers to multitrack recorders, to stuff like the iRig/Amplitude recently reviewed by RegHardware), photo editing/manipulation and painting apps, the mobile iMovie video editor etc.
Yes, many of these are currently at the novelty/toy level, but some are clearly moving past that or are obviously just at the beginning of where they could go (eg iMovie). It's easy to forget that it's only 3 years since the original iPhone came out and 2 years since the App Store, and only a few months since the iPad came out with all the potential that comes from a physically larger screen. Amid the plethora of me-too junk that unfortunately swamps the App Store, there's some genuinely interesting stuff being developed, and it's getting interesting.
Not a clue
wow Apple makes good products with software that works .. Who knew??
"we have everything on our side if we do things really right". Ahhh, but there's the rub: can Microsoft really "do things really right"?
I'm sure they have the technical and programming ability, but politically I think they are once again on a hiding to nowhere, trying to play catch-up (like it seems their strategy has been for the last couple of years) once again.
Dissing Android and Chrome - major fail.
(Onwards the penguins!)
Why is a software company always talking about hardware?
There he goes again,
As soon as the hardware is ready.......
The hardware is not the problem, it's the software dummy.
I'm sure HP or Acer would love to know out iPad competitors but windows 7 wearing lipstick is what is holding up the situation.
I'm sure there's a market for Win7 tablets
The same niche market that has been buying a trickle of bulky Windows-based tablets for the past decade.
It seems pretty obvious now that the mass market prefers the advantages that come from using a lightweight phone OS designed from the ground up for a touch interface rather than a cut-down desktop OS that adds touch as an afterthought. I don't think Windows will end up as Apple's main competition in this market.
Does anyone else remember...
The UMPC project from a couple of years back?
I saw a couple of promising designs in magazines and tech sites, but they never really seemed to materialize.
Only place i remember seeing one, was in Terminator Salvation, where John Conner used one to hack in to a Terminator Bike thing, with a handy USB port.
The question is...
not so much that Ballmer was wrong, but when has he ever been right?
Failure to innovate continues
The Zune was Microsoft's attempt to imitate the iPod, and it failed miserably; this will be no different. Users who want the features of an iPad will buy one, not wait the year or so Microsoft will take to produce a clone, and even longer for a similar marketplace of third-party apps to form. Microsoft cannot survive by continuing to imitate the success of its rivals; they must develop something new, something even better than what anyone makes. They have rarely done this over the last decade, and I expect this trend will continue unless there is a dramatic change in leadership.
Ballmer's comment about "user familiarity" is ironic, coming from the company that imposed the horrid 'ribbon' interface.
Too late Monkey boy
Although Microsoft have a history of not being first, but coming later with something better? (different?) I think they have missed the boat here. I don't think they can rest on their corporate desktop laurels anymore.
The company that Bill built is being dragged down by bean counter Ballmer. It always happens when a bean counter runs a company, especially when those companies have come to prominence through the hard work of inspired founders. Bean counters have no inspiration. It is a bit like Microsoft running a ballet, say swan lake, it might have all the bells and whistles, special effects that one could shake a stick at, but it would have no soul. Ballmer in a Tutu would just ruin it.
2001 a space idiocy , Monkey boy Ballmer stands in front of the Obelisk of the IPAD, smashing all the chairs he has in a such rage, but learning nothing. Apple are leading the field, and now have the resources to take it. (Until Steve dies, then they are screwed)
Microsoft need a new leader, someone with an Engineering background!
Some chilling language from a monopolist
Okay, they aren't a smartphone monopoly, but they killed Palm...
Specifically, that your competitor has "sold more than I'd like them to sell" sounds a lot like "It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail." Which was witty when Gore Vidal said it.
Do you have an iProduct, or would you like to? Then Steve Ballmer hates it, and you. He wants to snatch it out of your hand and lay it on the ground and jump up and down on it. He probably won't do that, but he wants to.
If you want a picture of a Microsoft future, imagine Steve Ballmer stamping on your iPhone - forever.
Palm killed Palm...
"Okay, they aren't a smartphone monopoly, but they killed Palm..."
I think Palm killed Palm. They lost their product/market focus and drifted off to MS for their O/S. When Palm spun off their OS as a separate division they unwittingly sold half of their product, what made Palm Pilots what they were, the device + the O/S. If Apple spun off iOS and started selling iPhones with Windows on them the iPhone would likewise sink like a stone.
YAHOO is doing something similar to what Palm did, they are farming their search engine out to M$ bing, loosing their identity in the market place, making themselves irrelevant, IMHO they are giving someone else the keys to their kingdom for a little short-term gain. When they become just a name with nothing behind them, they too will sink into the pages of Internet history.