So the Microsoft Surface is still D.O.A. (as predicted a long time ago…)

“…One of the bright spots in Microsoft’s (MSFT) quarterly report last week was that Surface sales more than doubled sequentially. The software giant rang up $893 million in sales of its Windows-fueled tablet during the holiday quarter, [up from $400M in Q3.]

However, the more that one thinks about it, the worse that Microsoft’s $893 million in Surface sales becomes.


How many Surfaces did Microsoft actually sell during the quarter? Well, the Surface 2 starts at $449, but the Surface Pro 2 can set buyers back as much as $1,799. …the the cheapest Surface Pro 2 — the one running Windows 8.1 Pro instead of the scaled-down Windows RT operating system — starts at $899. So when Microsoft says $893 million in tablet sales it likely translates into a little more than a million devices.

Apple on the other hand sold more than 26 million tablets [$11.5 billion worth] during the [September] quarter. If we look at the unit levels sequentially, Microsoft’s sales grew by less than a million sequentially while Apple sold nearly 12 million more iPads than it did during the prior three months.”

Note: This is not meant as particularly pro-Apple, and Android sales figures are also impressive and are in essence blocking Microsoft’s entry into a lower-priced tier (which is likely why MSFT didn’t even try to enter it?). Exact sales figures  and revenues for Android tablet vendors are much harder to come by/break out however, so this comparison of Surface and iPads shall suffice.

The point being: Remember that the Surface was supposed to be the rationale for Windows 8’s formerly-known-as-Metro touch-centric interface, as well as MSFT’s entire “Devices and Services” strategy. From the formerly massively dominant PC OS vendor, such miniscule share for the Surface line is nothing short of embarrassing.

Let’s just say for argument’s sake that Android tablets sold the exact same number as iPads (it’s likely more in the direction of 60 / 40), so the total being 2 x 26M = 52M. 1M or so Surface tablets sold would be about 2% share!

Again, this is what Ballmer et al. essentially bet the farm on in terms of trying to regain some relevance in tablets and Mobile. Except that a 10.6″, 2 pound device (the Pro) qualifies as neither, as I predicted repeatedly since long ago (6/2012).

Will MSFT’s next CEO simply put an end to this entire embarrassment and kill the Surface line, in order to concentrate on all enterprise/cloud services, all the time?

Satya Nadella’s “ascendance” to the Microsoft throne

While this WIRED post about Satya Nadella’s “ascendance” to the Microsoft throne starts out positive enough, there are many things to be concerned about underneath that surface (pun intended)…

“…But the choice of Nadella is a statement that, in the coming years, cloud computing will be a more crucial field to dominate. After all, cloud services ultimately feed the mobile as well as the gaming world, providing a way for software developers and businesses to build and host and operate the mobile applications that run on a world of smartphones and tablets.”

Except Microsoft isn’t dominating ANYTHING in the Cloud when it comes to either mobile apps or other startups. Amazon is. Google is putting up a fight with Compute Engine, and there is a host of smaller, more nimble Cloud PaaS (Platform as a service) and [X]aas (something/anything as a service) players out there innovating and winning customers. Rackspace. Heroku. Firebase. MongoHQ. And on and on.

Why would any startup or app developer choose to jump on the Microsoft B2B (really Big B to Big B…) bullying train…?! Maybe some clueless Big Corp CTOs or midlevel managers will still be buying Microsoft stuff “because choosing IBM Microsoft never got anybody fired…”?

To wit (WIRED): “…What Microsoft doesn’t have is a brain trust with much experience working at the giants of Silicon Valley — companies like Apple and Google and Facebook and Twitter, which have come to define the modern world in ways that Microsoft does not. That includes not only Nadella but his lieutenants. But, for better or for worse, Microsoft typically doesn’t mix well with those steeped in the new Valley culture.”

This header commentary from TIME here struck me as similarly odd:
plus.google.com/+TIME/posts/7iqY88izfz4
“His profile’s been low, but he’s been a key player for the tech giant.”

A key player in what? MSFT’s drift into obsolescence…?! In the creation of propaganda to try and make Microsoft Azure’s share in cloud computing appear more substantial than it really is? (See here: gigaom.com/2013/04/29/say-what-microsoft-azures-a-1-billion-business/ )

Also extremely (probably the most) worrisome? Bill Gates’ video statement here: Bill Gates welcomes Satya Nadella as Microsoft CEO where he “intones”:

1) Microsoft accomplishments from the 1980s…?!?!

2) The platitude that the industry is changing… you don’t say…

3) That Microsoft is having “a challenge” in mobile computing… (and Gates strangely stumbled over that term).

Ahahahaha… in truth Microsoft is NOWHERE in mobile, either in smartphones or tablets. Both Windows Phone / Nokia and Windows 8 / Surface have failed thus far.

Recall that Microsoft had to buy Nokia (at a firesale price after MSFT plant… I mean ex-MSFT-er Steven Elop hollowed out Nokia’s already “burning platform” to a mere shell of its former self…) to keep its smartphone “strategy” alive AT ALL.

Recall that the Microsoft Surface has been largely D.O.A. just as predicted:
plus.google.com/+alexschleber/posts/QuqxGmxbtaw

4) So what’s left then of the vaunted “Devices and Services” strategy that Gates almost religiously intones in the video?

Says Gates: “…even building a new platform… a CLOUD PLATFORM that connects to all sorts of different devices”. Yikes! Gates has been out of the game for over a decade in many ways, and his view of reality appears dangerously time-warped here.

Has anyone told him that the days of Microsoft’s bullying train are long gone? E.g. recently Microsoft’s own (businesses and consumers, those few that still need PCs…) customers have been forcing the company to backtrack on its Windows 8 “Touch Interface for desktops, like it or not…” strategy:
plus.google.com/+alexschleber/posts/QuqxGmxbtaw

6) But MOST WORRISOME of all is what he says next! – “I’m thrilled that Satya has asked me to step up, substantially increasing the time that I spend at the company… I’ll have over a third of my time available to meet with product groups… and it will be fun to define this next round of products working together…”.

YIKES! Precisely the thing that any outside CEO candidate was dreading, and likely making moving both Ballmer and Gates off the board a precondition for anyone to even consider the challenge (compare here: www.mondaynote.com/2013/12/08/microsoft-ceo-search-stalemate/ ).

Now Gates will be MORE INVOLVED again instead, yet somehow he doesn’t have the stomach for returning as CEO full-time himself.

This more than anything else makes me question if we’ll get to see much change at Microsoft at all, visionary or otherwise. If Gates had such great and modern-day relevant ideas for #mobile , etc. before, he could have easily communicated those to Ballmer circa 2008-2010, when now it really is much too late in the game…

7) And then again even Nadella intones all of the Microsoft tropes we’ve heard from Ballmer in recent times, “devices and services”, and “experiences”…
theverge.com/2014/2/4/5377318/microsoft-ceo-satya-nadella-first-letter-to-employees

“…As we look forward, we must zero in on what Microsoft can uniquely contribute to the world. The opportunity ahead will require us to reimagine a lot of what we have done in the past for a mobile and cloud-first world, and do new things.

We are the only ones who can harness the power of software and deliver it through devices and services that truly empower every individual and every organization. We are the only company with history and continued focus in building platforms and ecosystems that create broad opportunity.”

Things, empower, software, platform. That all sounds exceedingly vague…

Maybe to become the leader of what I have for a while considered to be a Cargo Cult, you have to have been brought up inside of that cult…

( >> en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult “… the apparent belief that various ritualistic acts will lead to” the same results as the culture/technology being copied… e.g. Microsoft trying to be Apple with the Surface by copying a “hip” tone in ads…, etc.)

Even last week when Nadella’s likely promotion to CEO was first leaked, I was struck by the meandering, NO-CLARITY-OF-VISION tone of him talking about MSFT’s cloud offerings and strategy.

I guess this is how you learn to talk when you had to report to Steve Ballmer everyday…

No two ways about it: Microsoft hasn’t gone anywhere in Mobile so far

Screen shot 2012-04-09 at 1.24.26 PMWhile we are witnessing and analyzing what I at least take to be the slow-motion trainwreck that will be Windows 8/RT and the Surface RT tablet, it is worth bringing back to mind for a moment another already full-fledged trainwreck that is Windows Phone thus far. Nokia is still only selling Lumia phones at a 1 Million PER MONTH run rate in Q3.

Compare that to the 1 Million+ Android devices being activated PER DAY, as well as the recently announced 26.9M iPhones Apple sold in Q3, which is about a 300k per day run-rate. Microsoft and Nokia are going exactly nowhere, market share in Europe (which was supposed to be more Nokia-friendly than the U.S. market!)

“…Across the “big five” EU countries – the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and France – Windows Phone now show[ing] a 5% share, up one point from a year ago.”
-> Guardian (many more sales stats there)

And TechCrunch recently wrote that “Windows Phone Is Taking Share From RIM”, which incidentally is dying and has been toast for a good while now. So when can we go ahead and declare that Windows Phone 7.x at least has been an unmitigated failure?

Yes, it is possible that things will pick up a smidge over time with WP 8.x, and some supposedly super-secret advantage of getting access to Windows compliant apps on a smartphone. Which so far is belied by the fact that there are very few such apps ready for Windows RT and the Surface RT.

Every review so far, even the largely positive trending ones, are complaining about the fact that the apps situation is looking very bad for MSFT, and Robert Scoble at least thinks from his mobile developer contacts he surveys regularly that that isn’t about to change much at all.

And you may say “who cares what Scoble thinks”, but in reality wasn’t the Windows RT and Surface RT launch supposed to be what would stem the tide of MSFT #PostPC era irrelevance and make everything better? So one would think that MSFT would have pulled out all of the stops to get a lot more apps developed, it’s not like they don’t have the funds to buy/bait developer interest directly.

So I just have to ask, what is the hold-up there?! Frankly, it doesn’t make any sense, especially since MSFT have already now been through the “chicken-and-egg” problem (essentially a vicious circle of negative reinforcers) re:low amount of apps / low sales / low developer interest / low amount of apps with WP7.x for about 2 years.

For Steve Ballmer, who once snidely remarked that he didn’t get Googles #Android / #mobile strategy, maybe the “learning curve” really is infinitely steep…?