Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft Corporation has stunned the business world when he has announced that he will be stepping down within twelve months. While many die-hard Microsoft fans are left in the lurch and uncertain regarding this announcement, many stockholders of Microsoft are singing out hallelujahs. Let’s face it, Microsoft stocks have been in the doldrums since Ballmer stepped in to Bill Gates’ very sizable shoes back in 2000. For 13 years, Microsoft, which used to be the home of stocks splits, exponential rises, stock prices and an overall amazing stock value has languished. If you owned Microsoft stock in 2000 and you’re just going to cash in at the beginning of 2013, you didn’t make much money. That’s how bad Microsoft was for 13 years. A lot of its critics are saying that Microsoft actually suffered a lost decade.
Be that as it may, Ballmer’s successor is going to face some serious challenges when he or she finally selected and takes the reigns of power from Steve Ballmer. Microsoft is at a serious crossroad. It has to make a serious play and become a visionary once again. It really has to breakout of its corporate load and not to try to network its way out of tough choices. It can’t be a “me too” company especially when it has Google dominating certain market categories and Apple shutting it out of other categories. Increasingly, as cloud computing and mobile computing mature, Microsoft beginning to look immaterial. If you are a Microsoft stockholder or a gambler, this is the time to either doubledown and put your money where your mouth is or cash out. It may be a rough ride ahead or it may be the beginning of the golden age for Microsoft. It has its work cut out for it. The fast growing segments of the technology market are not in Microsoft’s hand.
Let’s do a quick inventory, shall we? Online search and advertising are Google territory. Mobile platform is again, Google territory. E-commerce and cloudbased services, that is increasingly Amazon’s territory. Cool devices and high-value hardware brand, that’s Apple’s system. Microsoft is nowhere in any of those hot and fast growing fields. Microsoft is strictly in local software and operating system considering the rise of free operating systems like Chrome, it might just be a matter of time before Microsoft is edged out of those spaces as well. There are a few bright spots in Microsoft’s horizon. First of all, discounting the Xbox 1 misstep is still looking hot; also, Microsoft is making quite a name for itself in terms of cloudbased computing. Unfortunately, these are very tenuous and far from uncertain footholds. Microsoft has a stiff competitor in Sony in the video game console market and its cloudbased computing presence is only very solid in certain verticals. It’s not a market leader by any stretch of the imagination. So there you have it, whoever steps into Steve Ballmer’s shoes better hit the ball right out of the park and be a visionary because Ballmer’s old playbook of just trying to catch up or trying to put a rising technology within the Microsoft paradigm is not panning out. Whoever succeeds Ballmer needs to look forward instead of backward. I’m sure that much is obvious.