Elsewhere

Two Teensy, Weensy Numbers That Say A Lot

Two stats almost collided in my stream today, with one similarity: small numbers that say a lot. First, an astonishingly small proportion of Facebook users — 0.067%  — in the Facebook Governance Vote. That’s a hundreds of millions shy of the 300 million self-imposed requirement for Facebook to take any notice of the results. Which, of course, might be the result Facebook wants.

A second minute number comes from a study from Chitika that shows 0.13% of North American tablet traffic is coming from the Microsoft Surface tablet, which you could try to spin as ‘slow initial uptake’ but which I call ‘death eating a soda cracker’.

Touchscreen Chrome OS hybrid tablet/laptop coming soon? - Richi Jennings

http://blogs.computerworld.com/cloud-computing/21391/touchscreen-chrome-os-hybrid-tabletlaptop-coming-soon-itbwcw

Jennings pulls together many rumors pointing toward a touchscreen Chrome OS hybrid tablet/laptop designed and developed by Google. 

If the Android/iOS one-two punch is a precedent, the emergence of a Chrome OS laptop/tablet is more of a threat to Microsoft’s push on Surface than Apple. And the Surface looks like it’s heading nowhere, according to Piper Jaffray’s Black Friday stats.

But we settle in for another winter. The best companies — Airbnb, Dropbox, Evernote, Spotify, and of course Twitter — are trapped with $1 billion-plus valuations. In some cases, the valuations are for multiple billions. What yielded a bragging press release at the time is now looking like a gilded trap: They have to go public, do a down round, or sell for a smaller price and largely be viewed as a failure. And that means — as Libin hinted last week — it may be in for another eight years before we see some mega-cap consumer Web exits.

Sarah Lacy, That was quick: After a brief flirtation, top entrepreneurs are back to hating IPOs

As I said at the time of the Microsoft acquisition, this is probably why Yammer was purchased instead of IPOing. Could they have gotten (and maintained) a $1.5B market cap, in this market?

Yammer Pushes To Be The ‘Enterprise Graph’

At Yamjam 2012 today, Yammer has announced the next iteration of its enterprise platform plans, called the Enterprise Graph. Yammer is a leading work media player, and was acquired earlier this year by Microsoft for over $1B.

This new generation of Yammer’s API is designed to allow enterprise software vendors to embed Yammer functionality into their apps. This is a real parallel to the Facebook platform strategy, and the idea is similar, allowing others to embed specific bits of Yammer functionality — such as activity streams, follow and like buttons, and pages —within those third party apps.

This functionality reminds me of Socialcast Reach, but a few years after that pioneering approach (perhaps a few years too early).

Obviously, Yammer and Microsoft are pushing aggressively to become the platform of choice for enterprise apps to become social, trying to take the high ground in the new battlefield in the work media marketplace.

Microsoft Surface: Too Little To Late?

Microsoft is gambling a lot for a chance to fight with Apple, Amazon, and Google for the proximal (‘mobile’) device market. They are pissing off their historic partners, like Dell and HP, by making their first computers ever. The alternative might be to simply become an enterprise software company, milking Office, Sharepoint, and Yammer for the next decade.

I admit I like the keyboard cover idea, but I expect Apple will respond to that quickly.

But it may be too late, since the clients they want to attract with Surface and later products have already moved ahead with deployments of Apple and Android tablets:

With New Tablet, Microsoft Faces a Balancing Act - Nick Wingfield via NYTimes.com

Rich Adduci, chief information officer of Boston Scientific, a medical device company, has more than 20,000 PCs at his company using older Windows. But he has also deployed more than 5,500 iPads to sales representatives and other employees.

A day late and a dollar short?

How Microsoft Lost Its Mojo: Steve Ballmer and Corporate America’s Most Spectacular Decline - Kurt Eichenwald via Vanity Fair

http://www.vanityfair.com/business/2012/08/microsoft-lost-mojo-steve-ballmer?currentPage=all

Kurt Eichenwald, Microsoft’s Lost Decade

Once upon a time, Microsoft dominated the tech industry; indeed, it was the wealthiest corporation in the world. But since 2000, as Apple, Google, and Facebook whizzed by, it has fallen flat in every arena it entered: e-books, music, search, social networking, etc., etc. Talking to former and current Microsoft executives, Kurt Eichenwald finds the fingers pointing at C.E.O. Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates’s successor, as the man who led them astray.

[…]

The story of Microsoft’s lost decade could serve as a business-school case study on the pitfalls of success. For what began as a lean competition machine led by young visionaries of unparalleled talent has mutated into something bloated and bureaucracy-laden, with an internal culture that unintentionally rewards managers who strangle innovative ideas that might threaten the established order of things.

By the dawn of the millennium, the hallways at Microsoft were no longer home to barefoot programmers in Hawaiian shirts working through nights and weekends toward a common goal of excellence; instead, life behind the thick corporate walls had become staid and brutish. Fiefdoms had taken root, and a mastery of internal politics emerged as key to career success.

In those years Microsoft had stepped up its efforts to cripple competitors, but—because of a series of astonishingly foolish management decisions—the competitors being crippled were often co-workers at Microsoft, instead of other companies. Staffers were rewarded not just for doing well but for making sure that their colleagues failed. As a result, the company was consumed by an endless series of internal knife fights. Potential market-busting businesses—such as e-book and smartphone technology—were killed, derailed, or delayed amid bickering and power plays.

That is the portrait of Microsoft depicted in interviews with dozens of current and former executives, as well as in thousands of pages of internal documents and legal records.

“They used to point their finger at IBM and laugh,” said Bill Hill, a former Microsoft manager. “Now they’ve become the thing they despised.”

If we need proof that someone can make a billion dollars and still be an idiot, look no farther than Steve Ballmer. Why is he still running Microsoft, by the way? Will Gates come back and retool for 21C?

Does anyone really believe that Microsoft can compete against Apple, Samsung, and Google on smartphones, at this point?

Maybe a corporate raider should buy them, and spin out the divisions that might be able to fly on their own, like PS2, sell the enterprise software side to IBM, and shut down the rest. Of course $MSFT market cap is still $246B, so it would take a lot of money to buy.

We are in the middle of a $600 billion disruption, but hardly anyone has noticed. The once-staid world of enterprise computing is in silent convulsions, with incumbent giants being assaulted by startups that are building from scratch for a new era in which the cloud, mobile, and on-demand software will dominate. Hot companies such as Dropbox, Asana, and Atlassian will ascend to the throne, while the corpses of the old rulers – Microsoft, Oracle, SAP – will lie rotting in the gutter. The Great Replacement is beginning.

- Hamish McKenzie, The Great Replacement: Microsoft, Yammer, and a New World in Enterprise Computing via PandoDaily

Hamish inteprets Microsoft’s eagerness to acquire the work media company, Yammer, as something greater than the value of the business — even given its solid team, momentum, and product — but instead as part of a strategic vision of a ‘great replacement’ of the current generation of enterprise software. This transition may take a decade or more, but we will witness the slow dismantling of server-based software running onsite, and the migration to cloud-based solutions, like Yammer.

Hamish also points out that Microsoft has deep expertise in running massive cloud solutions, like HotMail, which they acquired in 1997.

I agree that players like Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle are not going to let themselves be squeezed out of the market by upstarts: they will buy a seat at the table, and cut the cards.

(via worktalkresearch)

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