What an enormous pile of unsupported conjecture.
Statements that would require a bit of support in any essay.
"But owning the desktop is like being the sexiest nun in the convent"
Global PC shipments were 351 million per year in 2010 according to Gartner. And it had been rising year on year up to that point. Has it abruptly nose-dived in the last two years, then? Probably not. So actually owning the desktop is less like "being the sexiest nun in the convent" and more like "being the provider of hundreds of millions of products to enterprise and home use every year." I feel that the original analogy therefore doesn't quite work.
And note that whilst laptops have been increasingly taking away from desktop machines, that's not yet been the same market segment as the tablet market (as tablets haven't yet filled the productivity requirement for most people). So if you want to extend the discussion to laptops, it doesn't really take away there either as MS have the lion's share of that market too. So a nun that is sexier than it's non-nun friend as well, I suppose. Analogies are not an argument. Particularly bad ones.
What else ? This :
"Microsoft put on a good show last week at its Windows 8 launch, but the only thing that really matters is how well Windows performs in mobile device markets."
The only thing? Hardly. MS are establishing an integrated ecosystem both in business and in the home. Success with home gaming and media, e.g. via the Xbox, obviously matters because this provides a big incentive to people to go down the MS route with their mobile devices. Smartglass is really impressive. MS's presence in the corporate market also provides a big enticement to go down the MS route with mobile devices. Everywhere you read "SkyDrive" you can substitute your corporate cloud service if you choose. MS have a really strong business set up for BYOD which is one of the next big things with this. Both of these areas feed in massively to the success of mobile devices. And that ties directly into the success of the Surface and OEM Windows 8 / RT devices too. What the Hell does "only thing that matters is... mobile devices" mean? Desktop, entertainment (games, music, movies), MS Office, services (Azure, Office 365, Sharepoint), server market (Server 2012) all matter enormously to the success of MS and also stimulate the mobile devices market. The "only matters" statement is worthless.
"Given Microsoft's continued reliance on an outdated, licence-based revenue model, Microsoft may have an uphill battle winning in mobile"
Outdated? It makes them over fifteen billion annually. It works and will continue to work for a long time. And what's the replacement models? Software as a service? Okay... Office 365, Azure... MS are doing this already. Or is Matt Assay arguing that the revenue model is outdated by Google's ad-based model. Riiggght. I can see Google out-fitting and supporting a massive IT roll out through ad-supported. Matt talks about selling devices "free hardware") through selling of content. Great - I'll have a five-hundred touchscreen laptops for my company, please. I can't promise that they'll be used to buy many ebooks or games, though. You're alright with that Amazon and Google, yes? Matt's statement shows a staggering lack of contextual awareness.
"And when that happens, Microsoft (and, eventually, Apple) can kiss goodbye to the developer ecosystem critical to winning over users. Developers go where the volume is, and that volume is Google's to lose."
Again, unsupported and lacking in understanding of basic market economics. Sellers (developers in this case) don't go "where the volume is", they go where the sales are. Different things. Matt should look up "market segmentation". There is a massive install base of Windows - their mobile device ecosystem overlaps with their entertainment and corporate presences which is hardly the case with Google and Apple and they have the resource to stay the course for decades to come. MS isn't going anywhere as a market. Even if MS only got 30% of the market, that would be more than sufficient to provide an incentive for developers. Even 10% would.
Vegetarians make up approximately 4% of the UK population. By Matt's logic, supermarkets would not sell specifically vegetarian-marketed food because "they go where the volume is" and yet I see shelves of Quorn, meat substitutes, vegetarian cheese. Garages would not stock parts for porsches. By Matt's logic, Android could never have got off the ground because at the time it appeared, the "volume" was iOS. A market doesn't have to have more than 50% to make it profitable to exploit. If you can see the flaw in any of my examples, then you can see the flaw in Matt's logic. I use the word tentatively.
"Microsoft could pull an Apple and sell a consolidated device like the Surface. I mean, really pull an Apple and dump its hardware partners."
No they couldn't. Doing this would immediately drive their partners to embrace Android and Linux en masse in sheer desperation. MS loves its partners, is tied to them, and quite frankly wants them to do well. That's obvious from their behaviour with the Surface.
"Apple is happy to occupy the premium segment of the market, even as Google's Android takes the mass-market lower-end"
You can buy high-end non-Apple devices. Always have been able to and they sell well enough. And as seen with the Surface, MS can produce something just as high-end as Apple. As to the low-end, MS are happy to compete there too. I have the Lumia 710. Got it for £160 SIM-free and it's even cheaper now. Great litle device and cheaper than many Android devices. And there are still WP7 devices being released so it's not cheap because it's old, it's targetted at this segment.
Almost nothing in this article is actually supported. It's just random statements, usually in contradiction to the actual facts or history. How can the author of this essay be "Vice President of Corporate Strategy". I think he actually just writes these articles in order to pick up clues from all the better informed people who respond. If that's the case, then clever, clever Matt. You can hire me as an actual consultant directly if you like. This post is a freebie.