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Microsoft Businesses Windows

Steve Ballmer: We're a Devices and Services Company 295

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the not-like-they'll-be-around-in-ten-years dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "According to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's latest shareholder letter (not exactly a gripping read), Microsoft sees itself as a 'devices and services company.' The subsequent 1,200-odd words hammer that point, mentioning software such as Office and Windows 8 largely in the context of tablets and other hardware — and while Ballmer acknowledges the 'vast ecosystem of partners' building a 'broad spectrum of Windows PCs, tablets and phones,' he leaves the door wide open to Microsoft building its own toys in-house. If one takes Ballmer's words at face value, it seems that Surface, the tablet Microsoft's building in-house and promoting as a 'flagship' Windows 8 device, isn't so much a lark but the harbinger of the company's future direction. Whether Microsoft's decision to build its own devices affects its long-term relationship with Dell, Hewlett-Packard and other manufacturing titans remains to be seen. Perhaps Ballmer can take some comfort from Apple, which profited enormously by pursuing the 'we build everything in-house' route. But it's indisputable that a devices-centric approach is new ground for Microsoft."
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Steve Ballmer: We're a Devices and Services Company

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  • What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by binarylarry (1338699) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @10:32AM (#41608061)

    Microsoft is a software development and licensing company.

    At least that's where all the money comes from. The Devices and Services aspects are huge money losing hobbies they've started.

    I hope this means the end is near.

    • by TWX (665546)
      Yeah, I have to really wonder about Ballmer. I've never seen him where he wasn't at least somewhat off his rocker. Sometimes I wonder if they put him where they did as the public face because he's kind of amusing, but where he doesn't have power in the company even if he thinks that he does.
      • by DogDude (805747) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @10:56AM (#41608405) Homepage
        Yeah, I have to really wonder about Ballmer. I've never seen him where he wasn't at least somewhat off his rocker.

        You keep wondering there, armchair quarterback. Let us know when you successfully run the largest software company on the planet.
        • by Ceriel Nosforit (682174) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @11:06AM (#41608555)

          Maybe Gates is testing that his management system is fool proof, and he has found a study case fit for his legacy?

        • Re:What the fuck (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @11:07AM (#41608581)

          Let us know when you successfully run the largest software company on the planet.

          successfully

          Let us know when Ballmer does.

        • by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @11:14AM (#41608673) Journal

          Err, given Ballmer's performance when compared to other CEOs of that level? It doesn't take a super-analyst or a wildly successful peer to see that Ballmer got his job thanks to the luckiest college dorm room assignment in the history of mankind (where he met Mssr. Gates...)

          • Re:What the fuck (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Rockoon (1252108) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @11:51AM (#41609181)

            Err, given Ballmer's performance when compared to other CEOs of that level?

            Over the past 10 years we have watched some CEOs "of that level" run their tech companies straight into the toilette.

            How is Sun Microsystems doing?
            How is RIM doing?
            How is Palm.. err USRobots.. no wait.. thats 3Com.. err.. PalmOne.. err.. Hows the hell is that Palm brand that Hewlett-Packard acquired doing these days?

            We quickly forget about all the failures.

            It was right about 10 years ago that AT&T went into the toilet, too. SBC picked up their rotting carcass and re-branded themselves, because the only thing AT&T had going for it by that point was its brand.

            Any company that is maintaining in this economic climate is doing just fine.

            • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @12:13PM (#41609463) Journal

              Over the past 10 years we have watched some CEOs "of that level" run their tech companies straight into the toilette.
              How is Sun Microsystems doing?
              How is RIM doing?
              How is Palm.. err USRobots.. no wait.. thats 3Com.. err.. PalmOne.. err.. Hows the hell is that Palm brand that Hewlett-Packard acquired doing these days?

              By contrast, how are Intel, Cisco, Oracle, Apple, RedHat, Samsung, IBM, Google, VMWare/EMC, NetApp, Canonical, and about 100 other tech companies doing? Most are still stable-to-growing, even in this economic climate. Their brands are still very strong in the tech community, unlike the weakening Microsoft brand(s). They have growing mindshare, unlike Microsoft. They have greater *growth*, and they manage to do it without fudging numbers, channel-stuffing, or counting "downgrade licenses" as sales of their new goods.

              Hell - Apple (a so-called premium brand!) and Google are almost printing their own money at this point, so don't go blaming the economy, either.

              It's too easy to compare Ballmer with the short-sheeted dual-CEOs at RIM, the egomaniac (but vision-less) former CEO/lunatic of Sun, or the Eternal Microsoftie that's currently running Nokia.

              Problem is, you illustrate my point for me, by comparing Ballmer to other, greater losers. Now compare him to the winners, and you'll notice that he comes up way the hell short...

              • by rvw (755107)

                By contrast, how are Intel, Cisco, Oracle, Apple, RedHat, Samsung, IBM, Google, VMWare/EMC, NetApp, Canonical, and about 100 other tech companies doing?

                IBM... Remember how that went? They created the basis that MS used to build its empire, and they almost went out of business. They completely changed their business. We don't hear about them that much. They don't make PC's anymore. They sell "services", and they are big, solid, profitable, stable. Like Apple, they started with nothing, realised that they had to start over. Like Apple, with a good vision on the future, they grew bigger than they were before.

                Now Microsoft... I see MS fall as deep as Apple and

        • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @11:26AM (#41608839) Homepage Journal

          Yeah, I have to really wonder about Ballmer. I've never seen him where he wasn't at least somewhat off his rocker.

          You keep wondering there, armchair quarterback. Let us know when you successfully run the largest software company on the planet.

          that's the thing.. running it successfully doesn't seem to have been much of a chore - BUT everything he's gotten involved and has grown with dollar spending has lost ms money over the last 10 years. it would be easy to argue that had he done _nothing_ he could have ran it more successfully(nothing includes not firing windows kernel development team - and includes not hiring ui wizs to fuck things up - basically just leaving it on autopilot).

          and even your witty reply includes "largest software company on the planet". but he's constantly trying to make it something else and burning billions and bridges in the process, this time a "devices and services" company which is a loss doing stupid business when you compare it to the business of selling sw which costs nothing to duplicate - devices and services have costs - and the turn arounds he has been in the helm for have been catastrophes excluding windows 7(windows8 still unproven, vista made a lot of money but could have brought in a lot more and made 7 unnecessary). zune was a catastrophe, kin was a catastrophe, xbox-franchise is a catastrophe financially, windows phone 7 has been a big fat turd(technically and financially - it's really sad when the wince was more successful in gathering manufacturer interest)... surface was a bomb(the original table, not the yet unproven tablet)..

          (written on a MS keyboard. their hw has been pretty good - but not a good business for them.)

          • by DogDude (805747)
            that's the thing.. running it successfully doesn't seem to have been much of a chore

            Wow. You're an ignorant prick. You can call somebody else's not "not much of a chore" when you do it yourself.

            What do you do, out of curiosity? Do you run a company even close to the size of Microsoft? Do you run anything at all? What gives you such authority to decide that you know so much better than this guy? Please, enlighten us.
        • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @11:38AM (#41609001) Homepage

          "You keep wondering there, armchair quarterback. Let us know when you successfully run the largest software company on the planet."

          It'll happen for me before it happens for Ballmer. That much is certain.

        • Re:What the fuck (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @12:45PM (#41609885)

          Let us know when you successfully [sic] run the largest software company on the planet.

          MS has lost mindshare, marketshare, and profits under Ballmer. What has it gained? Zune, PlaysForSure, Courrier, Kin, Windows Phone 7, Bing, aQuantive, Surface tablets - a string of might-have-been products hamstrung by weak execution and weaker leadership. The stock price eloquently expresses what the market thinks of Ballmer's performance:

          http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/chart-microsofts-performance-under-gates-vs-ballmer/35415 [zdnet.com]

          In June this year they announced their first quarterly loss:

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18917906 [bbc.co.uk]

          I don't think you can say that Ballmer has run Microsoft successfully in any way, unless you feel he has successfully squandered the legacy of Bill Gates.

      • There seem to be a lot of CEO's recently that have been put in charge of places that are "too big to fail" that seem to have done their best to prove that nothing, not even a destructive CEO, can finish off the company. HP, Australia's Telstra and QANTAS and many other places have had people that could not have done more damage if they were being paid by a hostile party to destroy the company they were leading. Nokia of course is busy demonstrating that they are not too big to fail :( However MS has enou
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DJ Jones (997846)
      XBox?

      Microsoft may fail often but every now and then they hit it out of the park.
      • Want to guess how much money they've made off the Xboxen?

        • Re:What the fuck (Score:4, Interesting)

          by MrDoh! (71235) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @10:51AM (#41608321) Homepage Journal
          Which, I think, was done out of a fear of Playstations taking over the home computing area (at the time it was going to be a linux box). Now they've been caught wrong footed by phones, and are struggling to catch up that area. MS has lost it's ability to turn on a dime it appears. Good/bad, BillG certainly was able to define a vision on where MS should be going, and get there quickly, throwing the whole company at the new market. Ballmer seems to be waiting...waiting...waiting...any second now...waiting... Oh, lighter mobile OS's are going to be all the rage? waiting...waiting...waiting...
          • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @10:58AM (#41608433) Journal

            MS has lost it's ability to turn on a dime it appears.

            To be fair, only when Microsoft sees itself hurtling towards a cliff does it gain the ability to turn on anything resembling a dime. Even then the results are usually half-assed, with just enough marketing, copying, company-purchasing, and sometimes outright BS to pull it off. See also the late 1990's and Windows TCP/IP stack, IE, et al.

            Gates had one other advantage that Ballmer does not: Microsoft was a whole lot more streamlined in 1996 than it is today.

            In analogy terms?

            Microsoft of 1996 was like turning a commercial fishing vessel: you could see it took effort, but it could turn quickly enough if it had to.

            Microsoft of 2012 is like six oil supertankers welded together side by side, with two of them welded on backwards.

          • Re:What the fuck (Score:4, Interesting)

            by rtb61 (674572) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @11:07AM (#41608571) Homepage

            It seems Ballmer was tolerated for his ability the maintain windows and office monopoly via many very legally questionable activities and to extract a profit from it. However his manner blunders and his shocking failure with MSN has even Bill calling him Uncle Fester behind his back. MSN should be worth more than Google not wallowing in the background lost and forgotten behind the delusions of 'Live', 'Bing', 'Zune' and even 'XBOX'. M$ seriously blundered when they did not take the opportunity to split the company living windows and office in one group and taking everything else including the cash into another group and putting that group under far more creative management, M$ and MSN, were the logical split.

            MSN was such an abortion, it's dalliances with commercial TV networks did nothing but help to develop those commercial TV network internet abilities and create real competitors. Stripping search out of MSN twice, first with Live and then with Bing crippled MSN's identity and weakened it's market presence. The gross mishandling of advertising on MSN with trialling some of the worst and most abusive content destroying and customer annoying advertising methods with delusional spreadsheets about how much money each method would make with literally no regard to how many customers they would drive away.

            No company was more single handedly responsible and executive failures more directly tied to the success of 'Google' than M$ and Uncle Fester. Without Uncle Fester stumbling about the internet at the helm of the beast of Redmond, that grand canyon wide gap in the market would not have been left for Google to fill.

    • by DogDude (805747)
      The Devices and Services aspects are huge money losing hobbies they've started.

      You have no idea what you're talking about. They're making plenty of money on their services.

      "...they count on our world-class business applications like Microsoft Dynamics, Office, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, and our business intelligence solutions."
    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @10:55AM (#41608383)

      Microsoft is a software development and licensing company. At least that's where all the money comes from. The Devices and Services aspects are huge money losing hobbies they've started.

      Unfortunately for Microsoft, their ability to expect to continue making money of software licensing in the future is constrained by other "devices and services" companies (notably, Apple who started as devices and has been ramping up services, and Google who went the other way around) at commoditizing software in the areas on which Microsoft relies, directly and indirectly, for its software licensing revenue. Even Ballmer can read the writing on the wall with Apple passing Microsoft in 2010 to be the biggest tech firm, and Google passing Microsoft this year in the #2 spot. Whether Microsoft can reinvent themselves successfully remains to be seen, but that their past business model may not be viable much longer is pretty evident.

      I hope this means the end is near.

      I think the end of Microsoft-as-we've-come-to-know-it is quite near; whether the end of Microsoft as an independent major player in the tech industry is near is a different issue, though.

      • by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @11:05AM (#41608541) Journal

        I don't see Microsoft dying off quite yet. They still rake in an obscene amount of money from the enterprise half of the tech world, and that's where all the money is. After all, what's $50/seat for a consumer OS license when they're raking in $5,000 or more for each Enterprise-tagged SKU?

        I can however see them losing the consumer side, and hard. That in turn will start creeping into the Enterprise side of things - first as a trickle (iPhones at work, anyone?) then as a flood.

        It'll take about 10 years, but by then I think that unless Microsoft does something drastic and effective, they will be reduced to selling Exchange servers/services/licenses, and that's about it (unless GMail takes over even that...)

        • I don't see Microsoft dying off quite yet.

          Naturally; there is a difference between being able to read the writing on the wall and having run into the wall.

          They still rake in an obscene amount of money from the enterprise half of the tech world, and that's where all the money is.

          They do, but a lot of that is "default choice" inertia, which is great while it lasts, but once it drops below a certain point, well, you rapidly end up where IBM is now in the desktop PC market.

        • I think people underestimate Microsoft. They've been at this for a long time.

          Services are a very profitable business. Constant cash-flow. It is good. You also avoid the need to constantly push pointless updates and frameworks to make it seem like the next version has value. I actually think this will allow Microsoft to build better products which will actually let them compete better in the market.

          When you look at something like email, Microsoft has Exchange and a lot of the market runs it. They are in

    • So Ballmer's saying: "since our software offerings are mediocre at best, we're going to start offering [more] mediocre devices and services"?

      Hey, Steve! Here's a clue: why don't you stick with what you [should] know: operating systems and office apps. You [still] have a customer base there. It might be a good idea to work hard and try to keep it (you may be able to claw back some market share on servers from Linux if you hurry). Improve the quality of your software. Skip the annual releases of the ne
    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Forgot the patent troll part. And the way they play extortion on android device makers (selling "protection" to avoid lawsuits) should qualify them as criminal organization too.
    • IMHO you have to play to win... or atleast be in the running.
      ballmer is neither smart or dumb in this, just common sense.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by daem0n1x (748565)

      What happened to the Doom-Gates icon? I mean, maybe it was outdated, but Slashdot could have replaced it with something funnier that just the company's lettering!

      What's happening to you, Slashdot? Going politically correct? If so, how can you be PC and still be Slashdot? What comes next, no swearing in the comments? Fuck you.

    • by ghjm (8918)

      I don't hope this means the end is near. As much as we all like to complain about Microsoft, imagine what Apple would do with a desktop monopoly.

  • Bumpy times ahead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dupple (1016592) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @10:33AM (#41608081)

    It's not going to be a smooth ride. Microsoft will have to keep an eye on software updates to existing products as it attempts to shift it's position

    Other than Xbox MS is largely unproven on the devices front. Surface could be a winner like Xbox or it could be a complete disaster like the Kin.

    Windows 8 OS will either be a success or annoy users completely. It seems there's little to no middle ground. If you're gonna have to learn a new OS why does it have to windows?.

    They're probably gonna piss off some OEMs as well. In the short term if they're lucky, long term if they're not.

    Ballmer's track record is not great. Ballmer completely missed the way things were going with mobile and search. Sure, MS now has competitive products and services (some yet to launched (Surface), some not finished (updates to Windows after it was RTM)), but its behind Google on search and mobile. MS never misses and opportunity to miss an opportunity.

    Now we're supposed to believe that Ballmer knows devices and services as well? They're at least three years behind Apple and Google. If they had been on the ball they could have predicted trends and even set trends, they could have had huge profits like apple and market share like google. There's only one reason they haven't. Ballmer.

    Even the board knows it, this years bonus for him was 9% less than last year. That's three years in the trot he hasn't made his maximum bonus. Some of that is due to the economy, some of it is because he's simply missed opportunities to create or expand markets.

    • by TWX (665546)

      Other than Xbox MS is largely unproven on the devices front.

      That's not true! I've had a Microsoft mouse for almost 20 years! It's the most reliable product of theirs that I've ever had!

      • by TWX (665546)
        Dammit, messed up the end blockquote tag....
      • I've had a Microsoft mouse for almost 20 years! It's the most reliable product of theirs that I've ever had!

        Given that the mouse is a rebranded Logitech, you could've had the same thing w/o the Microsoft tag on it, and it would have likely lasted just as long...

        • I've had a Microsoft mouse for almost 20 years! It's the most reliable product of theirs that I've ever had!

          Given that the mouse is a rebranded Logitech, you could've had the same thing w/o the Microsoft tag on it, and it would have likely lasted just as long...

          My Mobile 4000 mouse and Sidewinder X4 keyboard is definitely not a rebranded logitech

    • by DogDude (805747)
      When you're talking about "missed opportunities", you're only talking about being "first" at something or another. Historically, companies that are "first" at something rarely maintain the market leader position for very long. Pick up a business book or two... you might learn something!
      • by mspohr (589790)

        The poster didn't say first. Microsoft has been last in most of these fields.
        Being first does not guarantee success but being last is a rocky road to failure.

        • That used to be what MS was good at. They were last to enter after the "innovators" made typical "pioneer mistakes", then MS swooped inand cleaned up. But something happened by about 2002 and they can't do that anymore.

    • Surface could be a failure like Xbox or it could be a complete disaster like the Kin.

      FTFY. There is no call to try to paint the Xbox as anything other than a money-loser. It has lost money in recent quarters [edge-online.com] to add to the historical losses [itworld.com]. It may be the darling of advertisers and M$ boosters, but was only in the black a short part of its life and has now returned to being in the red.

      Moving into hardware is a bold move for M$, but it's an area that the have not proven themselves in. It's also an area wh

    • by ghjm (8918)

      > If you're gonna have to learn a new OS why does it have to windows?

      Because only Windows runs all the applications you depend on. If your business runs on Quickbooks, then it runs on Windows for the foreseeable future. (Though not necessarily Windows 8. Many businesses are still running Windows XP today. You won't be forced to Win8 for several years - and who knows what might happen in the next decade.)

    • Other than Xbox MS is largely unproven on the devices front.

      Really? Are you telling me that I won't be able to squirt music from my brown Zune to the other owner of a brown Zune, should I ever encounter him?

  • The good side (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ciderbrew (1860166) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @10:37AM (#41608133)
    Microsoft's mice and keyboards have always been really good - or a better way to put that would be - the old ones I bought years ago are really good. Still using them! I don't know about modern ones. My point? I like their peripherals so there is a chance the tech they make will be good. Software ... another matter.
  • by sycodon (149926)

    When a company starts/has to define "what it is", that means trouble is on the horizon.

    That means people are starting to ask, "just exactly what is that you do?"

    It means the company has started to turn to jello on the inside.

    • Re:Uh oh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DogDude (805747) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @10:42AM (#41608207) Homepage
      No, a well managed company does this when it starts, and does it continually throughout the life of the company. It often changes, too. That's all normal, good stuff.
      • by sycodon (149926)

        I don't' know.

        Could it be the case that the company has started doing things that the customers don't understand?

        Like your favorite restaurant starting to change the menus and going from paying at the table to the register. So is it a mom and pop cafe or a chain or wanna be upscale? What?

        I guess it's for the MBAs to discuss.

        • by DogDude (805747)
          I guess it's for the MBAs to discuss.

          Not necessarily MBA's, but maybe for people who know how to run a company properly. You comment is like saying, "Everybody knows that in programming, you should never, ever close a variable when you're done using it.".
      • No, a well managed company does this when it starts, and does it continually throughout the life of the company. It often changes, too. That's all normal, good stuff.

        Yes and no.

        If you're re-evaluating your vision and direction over time, keeping an eye on what's coming and how to best take advantage of that, then yeah - good stuff, and very necessary. If your changes are what's driving the market, even better.

        If OTOH you're reacting to market changes and/or to your competition with 'me too!' or 'OMG I have to wrestle that back!' seismic company mission changes, then it ain't good stuff at all.

        Microsoft seems more and more to be the latter, where they were once the forme

  • by concealment (2447304) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @10:38AM (#41608157) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft seemed to be heading in this direction, with Microsoft keyboards and mice on the shelves and rumors of a "Microsoft PC," when they were rudely interrupted by the anti-trust suit (which lore attributes to federal judges really detesting IE4).

    Now they have resumed this path.

    It might work for Apple; will it work for Microsoft? Possibly, especially if their model is licensing their OS and software as a precursor to hooking us up with smart homes and persistent, cloud-based data (or buzzwords of the day).

    The signal here is that Microsoft may no longer see the OS as a huge moneymaker, as people shift away from PCs to tablets and the like, and they may also have doubts that people outside business will keep buying Office and other software. I'm skeptical on this; I don't think tablets will replace PCs or that people will stop buying software (usually for the support contracts).

    One thing that history seems to make clear: the bigger a company is, the more likely it is that it will become unresponsive to market forces, and drop like Goliath with a head wound.

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @10:40AM (#41608173) Homepage Journal
    Ok Microsoft, so you're Hardware and Services now, just like Apple. Now go and price your OS upgrades the same way Apple prices theirs. I can guarantee that you'll see much quicker uptake on new OSes if they're $20 and one purchase covers every device in your house.
    • Only if the OSes are backwards compatible.
  • Microsoft has gone full Apple. I'm curious to see whether this will end up taking an Android like approach, with Microsoft producing 'flagship' devices for 3rd parties to aspire to, resulting in wide price ranges, or if they'll end up catering to and designing for their own (expensively priced) hardware only (ala Apple). The latter could be very bad for Microsoft's bottom line (all those licensing fees) in the immediate future; stockholders would have to prepare for quite the rollercoaster...
  • I'm not sure why they haven't focused more on that side of the business.

    • Becuase the only apps that couint right now are cell phone apps, and Microsoft doesn't get cell phones. Even after the 7th iteration of their own phone product.
  • I think MS is looking at companies like Google, whose market cap is the same as MS, and then Apple, whose market cap is over twice that of either, and asking why, as the granddaddy of the PC, is not approaching a the trillion dollar market cap. The answer, once again, is to copy Apple. I think this is a mistake. MS makes good products that run on generic machines, and there are many other firms who are willing to make slivers of profits to deliver those generic machines. If MS makes as good software as
  • Maybe that explains why Microsoft upgrades are consistently more cumbersome, restrictive, and difficult to use. I think I liked them better as a software company.
  • by Andrio (2580551) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @11:04AM (#41608521)
    MS (and others) always mimic the wrong parts of Apple. Apple products are successful for two reasons (in this order): (1) They provide social status and (2) they provide a good user experience.

    People buy Apple products, initially, because of the marketing and the fact that owning such a device elevates their social status. When they're waiting in line at a grocery store, they like the feeling of holding that lovely, shiny device in their hands, knowing others are looking at it, evnious. You absolutely don't get that feeling with a dumbphone, or even most other smartphones. Pretty much the only the phone that will trigger that feeling is a probably Galaxy S3.

    The user experience only comes after that fact. It's what keeps customers; that's its only real purpose, business wise. Without both the ability to attract customers, and keep them, Apple products (or any products) won't be very successful.

    That's all that there really is to it to Apple's success. They make people want a product, and then they make them want to keep it. Things like "Apple makes their own hardware, so we will too!" or "Apple is a walled garden, so we will be one too!" never work if you don't concentrate on those two things. Everything else is, at most, just a means to an end.
    • by scorp1us (235526)

      I never factor in social status. No use being the cool man on the block if I can't use the damn thing. The key mental difference is rather than try to do everything, they focus on going 80% really well. Non-apple products are check-box happy, where they add half-implemented features to compete in the checkbox wars.Apple never competed in those so they never lost them. Case and point [youtube.com] Apple competed on design esthetics and simplicity.

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        You mean like the current maps fiasco? C'mon, at least try to be realistic with your arguments. Apple's products in the end are just as much of checklists with often worse implementations of checklisted stuff then wintel gets. And it loses plenty of those quality matches. But as usual, apple has a much better marketing and very loyal fanbase that will shout over anyone criticising their products, so you rarely get stuff in proper proportion as compared to stuff on competitor platforms that lack such followi

    • by thoth (7907)

      MS (and others) always mimic the wrong parts of Apple. Apple products are successful for two reasons (in this order): (1) They provide social status

      This has got to be the most oft-repeated lie, I mean fantasy delusion, concerning Apple. Yes, they have an eye on design. But it is simply ludicrous to claim their success over the last 12+ years is entirely due to fashion/social conscious hipsters seeking approval from one another or total strangers for that matter.

      All I can figure is this delusion allows people to ascribe failure of others to something outside their control, something not easily replicable. However the bottom line is Apple makes stuff tha

    • People buy Apple products, initially, because of the marketing and the fact that owning such a device elevates their social status.

      I'm getting rather tired of this social status meme. Nobody sells 80 million phones on social status and most people who buy Apple products do so for fairly practical reasons. (perceived ease of use, network effects, halo effects, perceived quality, etc) Apple products aren't rare or hard to get and nobody thinks you are special because you have one. Status isn't elevated unless there is some sort of exclusivity. There is almost no exclusivity with Apple products - people who want one typically go ahead

  • Cheat Sheet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @11:05AM (#41608545)

    Microsoft is a monopolistic public utility that sells Windows and Office the way Consolidated Edison sells electricity. Everybody buys it, but nobody particularly likes it.

    IBM is not a technology company; it's a multilevel sales organization.

    Apple is not a hardware company; it's a software company that bundles its software with large, sleek, phone-shaped license-enforcement dongles.

    Google is not an Internet services company; it's an advertising and market research company. So is Facebook.

    HP is a printer ink company that's desperately trying to be something else. Anything else.

    Oracle is not actually a company; it's actually a newly discovered type of supermassive singularity with a gravitational pull that only affects corporate accounts.

  • Microhard.
    Microserve. (that one would almost work phonetically too if you went for "Microserved").

    • by scorp1us (235526)

      Microhard sounds like a clone of Halfpenies to me.

      Micohard hapPCness? (haptic PC-ness?)

    • by SirGarlon (845873)
      Microhard [microhardcorp.com] is taken -- by a company that makes crappy IP radios. Not that there is any company that makes good IP radios.
  • I have a fairly cheap Microsoft Comfort Curve keyboard. The keys are gently bent in an arc, so you have some of the benefits of an ergo keyboard, but without the weird split, and it takes little adaptation to continue touch typing just like any other qwerty keyboard. It's cheap, although not that durable, and it is a joy to type on.

    If that's the direction Microsoft wants to take their products, I'm not sure that's a bad thing.
  • The only excellent product MS ever made is the Microsoft Mouse. I have used many different rodents, but my MS Mouse is perfect and it works beautifully on my Fedora Linux laptop computer.
  • Its been reported that Ballmer is now reporting this descision to the shareholders after a late night with the remaining frat boys and microsoft insiders playing a charades-like game where they tossed out key technology words and whatever sounded good stuck. "We're a technology company." "No, too general, we're a services company!" "Cloud! We're now into the cloud!!" "B2B, we're a B2B company!!!!" and so on...
  • Everyone thinks there's more money in services than in software, even for business customers. It's a great thing that we have open source software, so we can use computers without paying recurring fees to N companies.

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