This is what happened to PC sales, which appear to be in a long-term decline and are down again 14% in the first quarter alone.
Then, along comes Microsoft with its disastrous Windows 8, which is now being blamed for suppressing sales even more.
A while ago, the innovation gurus at #innochat discussed Kodak’s demise. One wag coined the phrase, kodaked, or relying on high-margin revenue streams (film and print) while ignoring market developments around digital.
To add insult to that injury, Kodak actually invented the digital camera, and then filed over 1,000 patents on digital photography!
Is Microsoft making the same mistake?
Redmond probably thought it was being innovative with Windows 8, an OS designed for touch screen devices as well as the desktop. Now, not only is Microsoft failing to gain market share in the tab market, it is being blamed for hurting PC sales, too.
In early 2012, I downloaded the beta version and installed it on a PC in the office. Immediately after I booted it up, I knew it wouldn’t get within an ass’s roar of my workplace.
In the words of Podge and Rodge, two crude puppets on Irish TV, I would rather staple my micky to my eyelid than roll Windows 8 out in a corporate environment.
Some commentators say Microsoft is betting on the PC’s demise. Gartner, however, says Microsoft itself could be obsolete by 2017. A shift to tablet and phone computing, coupled with falling mobile device prices, spells trouble for traditional PC/laptop businesses.
But could they have done Windows 8 right?
Ubuntu’s solution is much more elegant: It draws on the laptop-docking-station paradigm. Pull your phone out of your pocket, dock it, and start working on a large monitor and keyboard. It puts a whole new spin on bring your own device (BYOD).
It also puts Microsoft’s Windows 8 effort in a bad light.
If I was the guy behind Windows 8 and I saw Ubuntu’s idea, I’d kick myself. Then I’d die of embarrassment. Then I’d stage a miraculous re-incarnation to get stuck in to Windows 9.
It also points to something wrong inside the behemoth in Redmond.
“It is not only the loony OS that’s the problem for Microsoft. It’s the decision-making prowess (or lack thereof) at the company itself that should concern investors,” said John Dvorak. “How many people greenlighted Windows 8 when it was apparent to everyone that it was not a good follow-on to the successful Windows 7?”
Microsoft has long been accused of relying on revenue from Windows and Office software. Superficial parallels can be drawn between it and Kodak. Microsoft waited too long to get in to mobile. Then when it did try to break in to the market, there were already established players there with robust product offerings.
It’s hard to see obsolesnce in four years when Microsoft’s profits for fiscal year 2012, which ended June 30, were up $3.6 bn or 5.4 percent. But PC sales were already slacking (see chart), and that was before a disastrous Christmas and Q1 2013.
But Kodak didn’t provoke reactions to its new products like “slap in the face to established customers” or “guaranteed to disappoint nearly everyone.” They just rode the old film and print revenue stream.
On the positive side, Dvorak said, “There is still time to fix this. Microsoft needs to take action right away.”
Images from Ubuntu’s website.