Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer showed up in another Forbes list. Forbes put the software behemoth’s CEO at the top of its list for the Top 5 CEOs of large publicly traded American companies who should have been fired. Ouch. Forbes got to this conclusion by implicitly comparing Ballmer to that other Steve-Steve Jobs. Unlike Jobs who took Apple from its perennial “also ran” (albeit so cool and chic) status to a global tech leader thanks to its music mobile devices and tablets, Forbes said Ballmer steered the Redmond Washington giant out of those lucrative and fast-growing markets. Forbes said Ballmer also harmed the growth and profitability of traditional allies in the Microsoft “ecosystem” like HP, Dell, and yes, even Nokia. The business magazine then heaped the “ecosystem”‘s loss of jobs and stock value squarely on Ballmer’s head. Indeed, Microsoft stock has slid from $60 to under $30.
A bit overboard, don’t you think? Ballmer does not control those other companies. Nor is he alone in missing the sea change brought about by Apple. Indeed, Forbes seems focused more on the long list of failed initiatives (anyone remember the Zune?) but seems to forget that Microsoft still virtually owns the corporate computing sector. This corporate dominance serves as a powerful revenue base that can fund Microsoft’s attempts to dominate other market segments.
Finally, Forbes didn’t spend much time analyzing the weakness of Microsoft’s competitors: Google’s vision requires all users to connect to the Net while Apple’s is even weaker-it envisions a device-based division between content creation and content enjoyment. Microsoft’s vision is distinctly Borg-like: all devices must connect to Windows 8 and its successors. Regardless of your device, Microsoft will be your bridge to interconnection. While it is still too early to say that Windows 8 will execute this vision flawlessly, there is no doubt that Microsoft has the patience and money to keep perfecting its product until it, once again, comes out on top.