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Steve Ballmer: We Won't Be Out-Innovated By Apple Anymore

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the innovators-innovators-innovators dept.

Businesses 610

An anonymous reader tips an article about comments from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer regarding Microsoft's attitude toward Apple. It seems Microsoft is tired of being behind the curve in most areas of the tech market, and will be trying very hard to prevent Apple and other companies from beating them to the punch in the future. From the article: "In a recent interview, Ballmer explained that the company had ceded innovations in hardware and software to Apple, but that the-times-they-are-a-'changin. 'We are trying to make absolutely clear we are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple,' Ballmer explained. 'Not the consumer cloud. Not hardware software innovation. We are not leaving any of that to Apple by itself. Not going to happen. Not on our watch.' ... An admirable goal, but it's fair to argue that attempting to innovate everywhere results in innovation nowhere. A big part of the reason Apple has been so successful is that they devote the bulk of their attention to only a few select market areas. By trying to innovate everywhere, so to speak, Microsoft runs the continued risk of spreading itself too thin and not really having a fundamental impact in any one market."

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Sorry (5, Funny)

residieu (577863) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606297)

Sorry, Apple has a patent on innovation.

Re:Sorry (5, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606349)

To me the humor is this: why are they going after apple? Let them, surely - but why do they think it is apple who is out innovating them as opposed to the entire technology industry at large?

"first they ignore you" (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606495)

"then they laugh at you"
"then they fight you"
"and then you win."

It looks like Ballmer has decided to proceed from stage 2 to stage 3. This is really the first time I recall him doing anything to admit there's a problem. Usually the MS stage puppets just keep up the brainwashing with how MS is doing so well and owns the market and is the leader in everything and how the new blablabla is going to be such a smashing success. You know the gloves have come off when Ballmer admits they're behind.

Re:"first they ignore you" (5, Insightful)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606635)

I was thinking more about the five stages of grief (Kübler-Ross model [wikipedia.org] ), the first of which is denial:

1) Denial
2) Anger
3) Bargaining
4) Depression
5) Acceptance

I'd put old Steve Balls somewhere between #1 and #2.

Re:"first they ignore you" (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606709)

1.5) Fat, Angry and in Denial

Re:Sorry (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606427)

And Ballmer has a patent on matching his rank on the corporate ladder with his ignorance (Good thing because I hear that a lot of companies are stepping on his I.P.). This guy could not get an entry level position at his own company... good thing he was there at the start.

I bet there are very few real parodies done on him because he's so great at it making me laugh with what he actually says.. So out of touch that one.

Re:Sorry (0)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606565)

The article was misquoted. Fixed: We Weon't Be Out-Litigated By Apple Anymore

Re:Sorry (4, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606649)

Balmer is tacitly admitting that the previous policy was to have Apple innovate, then copy them.

Re:Sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606725)

Nah. Ballmer is just proving he's a PHB type CEO.

Re:Sorry (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606723)

Yeah, but then Jobs died. Patent ran out when he did.

Re:Sorry (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606825)

Sorry, Apple has a patent on innovation.

Why stop at Apple? Everyone is out-innovating MSFT. They got lazy, back in the 90's and have to root out the rot in their company before they will be nimble enough to do anything. Best bet would be to spin off a tightly focused innovation group and pull in resources as needed from where ever they come from.

On Apple's own turf (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606315)

Oh, crap. Is this the real definition of "innovation", or Apple's definition? Because if this means Microsoft is going to go MORE on the offensive with asserting dodgy patents, we could be in for a rough ride...

cool story bro (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606333)

"we are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple"

all that really says is they will be following Apple into any market even ones that aren't right for Microsoft. it actually sounds to me like they are doubling down on copying Apple.

Re:cool story bro (5, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606439)

Phones yielded to Apple and Android.

Desktop operating systems yielded to MacOSX (and maybe Ubuntu)

Tablets tossed with the Hail Mary of RT.

Servers yielded to several versions of Linux (and here, Apple croaked).

Cloud to dozens of IaaS and PaaS providers.

Virtual machines handed on a platter to VMware, Citrix, RedHat, and varying others.

OH! But Games! Microsoft has XBOX and Zune^H^H^H^H

Steve: remember, it was you that mixed the kool aid.

Re:cool story bro (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606717)

Obvious troll, but many may think it fact. You're wrong on desktops and servers, by a large margin. I'll let you have cloud services and virtual machines, but Microsoft has offerings of both. And Hyper-V is a dirt-cheap in the end when compared to VMWare (think licensing of guest OS when the guest OS is Windows Server). I also doubt that Citrix and Redhat, with regard to virtual machine because you listed them there, have a greater market share than Microsoft. I'm not even aware of viable Citrix virtualization solution.

Re:cool story bro (2)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606765)

Sorry, you're wrong-- and you're a propagandizer. Microsoft has lots of stuff and it's lost mindshare. Statistically, I'm sure Microsoft has majority share in desktop operating systems, and Nothing.Else.

Your lack of knowledge about Citrix XenServer pegs you. Look it up. Find out where it plays.

Translation (4, Insightful)

zrbyte (1666979) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606353)

Ballmer to MS board: "Please let stay as the CEO"

Re:Translation (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606517)

MS board to Ballmer: "No we not."

Re:Translation (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606803)

Ballmer in a month: "They fled. The Apple louts fled. Indeed, concerning the fighting waged by the heroes of Microsoft yesterday, one amazing thing really is the cowardice of the Apple employees. We had not anticipated this... Their infidels are committing suicide by the hundreds on the gates of Redmond. Be assured, Redmond is safe, protected."

Apple on select few markets? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606357)

No, apple just sues anyone trying to innovate anywhere in the technological department and claims in infringes on something (they took from else where) they claim is theirs...

Re:Apple on select few markets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606817)

How is this different from every other major technology corporation? You either sue based on your patent portfolio, or you lose the ability to defend your own IP.

Innovation? Microsoft? (0, Flamebait)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606367)

So lets get this right. Not only is Microsoft planning innovate for the first time, they plan to go right to out innovating Apple... as if THEY[1] do much of it themselves but whatever. And not only that they are going to suddenly be innovating on 'all fronts.' Can't wait to see this plan fail.

[1] Apple productizes. Apple markets. They even integrate well. But mostly they are a design and marketing company.

Re:Innovation? Microsoft? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606569)

There isn't a definition of innovation that people agree with. Everyone expects some radical change that no one has thought of, but that has never ever happened in the consumer space. A good definition that most rational people can agree with is to improve existing ideas in some way or another. This improvement can be major or minor (both being subjective terms). The consumer space is a volume business which relies heavily on scale/margin economies. Nobody is going to make ultra expensive cutting edge cool tech for mass market use.

I am sure that like most companies MS has improved upon existing ideas. Though the key here is what OTHERS think of as innovative. e.g. No one cares about kernel improvements in NT - Not one person is going to write an article about them. They have always had cool tech inside their OS - but hidden under closed source licensing. All they have to do for people to simply think they're innovative is to add some visual flair - which is decidedly non innovative - since almost every UI is based upon ideas that are familiar to users in one form or another.

Hmmm ... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606369)

Why am I reminded of this [dilbert.com] Dilbert cartoon from last week?

A decree from the CEO to be more innovative largely means nothing if they can't actually make the change in a meaningful way and bring out products.

If Microsoft has been innovating and not creating products, they're idiots. If they haven't been innovating, well, that's the fundamental problem, isn't it?

Microsoft has been so mired in the "copy someone else's product badly" mentality for so long, I question if Balmer understand what needs to be done to fix this. Certainly not just a speech.

Re:Hmmm ... (5, Informative)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606491)

They've been innovating and not creating products. Microsoft has been very conservative. Go to http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/ [microsoft.com] and you'll be shocked how many cool ideas aren't seeing the light of day because they've been strategically focused and conservative. If Microsoft is willing to start taking risks again, and Windows 8 so far surely qualifies, I think it might get fun in tech again.

Re:Hmmm ... (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606559)

It's already fun in tech as long as you're not a microsoft-centric person.

Quite frankly the farther I get from Microsoft-groupthink-land the better I feel. Since I'm a gamer there is nothing I can't do on my Ubuntu laptop that I can't do on any other O.S., plus I don't waste gbs on a huge Office install.

Re:Hmmm ... (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606579)

since I'm *not a gamer. God I need to learn to proofreed.

Re:Hmmm ... (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606819)

I understand the feeling. I've been a Unix guy since 88. That being said though, Microsoft sets the tone. Microsoft more than anyone else helped companies slash IT budgets and stagnate after Y2K.

Re:Hmmm ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606627)

I'd puzzled over this for a while until last week. Why do so many cool things come out of MS research? Why do almost none of them make it to the market?

Someone here made the comment that Microsoft pays lots of very smart researchers lots of money not to innovate and create products.. But to lock them up, and keep them from working for other companies.

Re:Hmmm ... (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606785)

Well a good example I know specifically was the X# (later F#). http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/cambridge/projects/fsharp/ [microsoft.com]

Microsoft for almost a decade has had a really spectacular (arguably the best) implementation of OCaml and a great functional language tied to .NET. Ballmer's feeling at the time was the wrong sorts of people loved it. In his mind people don't buy Microsoft for cutting edge or exciting they buy Microsoft for the ability to maintain a low TCO. Ballmer never wanted the project to go forward because it would create a situation where some programmers were using techniques which required base learning to understand.

Something like

  let rec fibs = Seq.cache <| seq { yield! [1; 1]
    for x, y in Seq.zip fibs <| Seq.skip 1 fibs -> x + y }

is simply not understandable to someone who's never seen functional syntax.

In the last year though Ballmer has shifted. Because since he sat on F# that niche got absorbed by Scala and runs on the JVM.

Re:Hmmm ... (4, Insightful)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606645)

Look at their Kinect. Microsoft did everything they could to keep it from becoming a mass-market device. Why? They could have written a PC driver in 1 day and sold thousands overnight, so why not? Makes you wonder. But in a nutshell, this is what happens when you try to drive the market instead of responding to it. It has to be a 2-way street between the consumer and the producer.

Re:Hmmm ... (0)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606809)

If Microsoft is willing to start taking risks again, and Windows 8 so far surely qualifies, I think it might get fun in tech again.

So, what you're saying is you need Microsoft to lead you by the nose in order for you to have "fun" in tech. That's just embarrassing.

Re:Hmmm ... (1)

epine (68316) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606757)

Is it even legal to link a cartoon here lacking a tooltip bish-boom? I even enabled cookies for dilbert.com and still no yellow cake. Then it dawned on me ... I've been had.

he doesn't grok what he doesn't grok (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606371)

this only shows that he doesn't actually know what innovation is...

Re:he doesn't grok what he doesn't grok (1)

knappe duivel (914316) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606563)

this only shows that he doesn't actually know what innovation is...

sounds more like marketing told him what innovation is all about

Fight the wrong battles? (5, Insightful)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606381)

Ballmer seems to be citing the ongoing (prior?) battles as areas where MS intends to fight... That's great and all, assuming MS delivers, but they should instead be focussing on the next battles.

Re:Fight the wrong battles? (1)

david.emery (127135) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606469)

Yeah, lots of precedent for Microsoft following (and losing lots of money) under Ballmer's watch. Not just Apple, but also Google.

I don't understand why he's still CEO.

Re:Fight the wrong battles? (1)

kehren77 (814078) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606711)

With more and more companies, municipalities and school districts moving to Google Apps, I'm shocked that the MS board hasn't handed Ballmer his gold watch and sent him packing.

Re:Fight the wrong battles? (5, Insightful)

Anarchitect (9282) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606525)

A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
-- Wayne Gretzky

Re:Fight the wrong battles? (5, Insightful)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606595)

Yes, he is using the same strategy as the TSA. Focus on yesterday's problem, not tomorrow's.

Re:Fight the wrong battles? (4, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606829)

There's an oft-quoted line of Wayne Gretsky about skating to where the puck is going, rather than skating to where it is now. Steve Jobs quoted it a number of years ago regarding their strategy of looking towards whatever was coming next, rather than what consumers were using and wanting now.

Microsoft has been a "skate to where the puck is" company for quite a few years now, which is why everything they've been putting out feels just a bit off and a bit behind. They've made indications in the last few months that they want to get away from that and actually start to be pushing boundaries, rather than filling in behind the people that push the boundaries. And I sincerely hope they do, since more innovation (and competition!) in the tech space is always a good thing. They certainly have an awesome R&D department that routinely puts out awesome stuff, but it's unfortunately very rarely realized in its full potential. I'd love to see them using the stuff they develop internally in big ways.

So... (3, Insightful)

dciman (106457) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606407)

they're going to do something that is completely against/opposite any and all products or direction they have ever made or gone? I'll believe it when I see it!

They don't have the best track record on original products :)

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606513)

Yes! They will do the opposite!! [youtube.com]

If this plan fails, at least Ballmer, being a short stocky slow-witted bald man, will get a job with the New York Yankees.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606679)

The only way MS could hope to be as innovative as Apple is to buy them. Since that isn't happening any time soon, just maintain the current course of coming to market with 'innovations' 3 - 5 years after everybody else. And somewhere in the middle, create a server OS that is visually optimized for running on a tablet.

The /. post is completely apple's bitch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606425)

Is it me or is it the bias in the article? Apple has clearly tried to innovate widely in the past and has definitely met with failure on many products. They just honed a few products better on what they knew. Cutting down your avenues to make more narcissistic devices is NOT what innovation is all about

Re:The /. post is completely apple's bitch (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606641)

Honing a "few products" has worked out pretty well for them. That is even including cannibalization of some of their big winners like the iPod. I may not like how Apple does things, but they do a lot of things right especially from a user design perspective. Every time I have picked up one of their products just to see what the big deal is, I have been able to immediately "get it" and see how to use them. They have innovated in a few very important ways.

By the way, how can a device be narcissistic. Me thinks you are just as spellbound by their marketing as the dirty hipsters you seem to be trying to disparage.

CEO Says his company is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606437)

wow.. shocking..

I mean.. what do people expect them to say? Obviously internal emails are going to be probably as scathing as gates letter to the movie maker team.

http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/2008/06/24/full-text-an-epic-bill-gates-e-mail-rant/ [seattlepi.com]

But externally you'll find hard pressed to find a CEO of a major corporation to say anything other than we rock or we're going to rock.

Obligatory Dilbert reference... (2)

DavidHumus (725117) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606441)

Work smarter, not harder: http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1997-07-06/ [dilbert.com] .

Because innovation is the same way - Ballmer doesn't want to be out-innovated in any of the established "hot" areas but he doesn't know what he doesn't know.

Won't be out-innovated by Apple anymore? (5, Insightful)

c0c (2037104) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606445)

Why? Because Jobs is dead?

Focus on Business! (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606453)

All Microsoft has to do is focus on improving the support for Businesses, and Apple will always be the little man. Keep Microsoft OS on work desktops, Microsoft Office products, and Microsoft on servers (including better virtualization), and Microsoft will keeps its Monopoly.

Re:Focus on Business! (2)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606541)

Don't forget Microsoft got where is today via. winning the small business market and then sneaking into to enterprise desktop to overturn the Mainframes and Minis. Microsoft understands fully well if they are knocked out mostly from consumer by 2020, by 2030 things could look very different in enterprise.

Microsoft Misses Opportunities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606461)

WP7 could have replaced the Blackberry platform in so many businesses with native Office and Outlook if they were only smart enough to add support for digital signatures and encryption. They would have instantly gained significant marketshare instead of being nowhere against iPhone and Android. Just another example of almost from Microsoft.

Brilliant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606463)

He's going to skate to where the puck is.

Hey, what's the rush? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606467)

You might have the the best jockey in the world but it won't matter because the horse is lame.

Ballmer continues to be so out of touch after all these years. Microsoft's problem isn't the lack of innovation. It's lack of focus and vision. One example is their continued insistence of tacking the name "Windows" on everything they produce. They just can't bring themselves to kill it and move on.

The term "Windows" doesn't even make fucking sense anymore.

You keep using that word... (4, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606471)

"Innovation." You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

You want to out-innovate Apple? Don't make a goal of going head-to-head with them everywhere - that's copying, the exact opposite of innovating. Compete where you actually have a newer, better product than they have. Compete where they have no product. Let them win where you cannot create a better or more innovative product. I'm sure Sun Tzu had something I could quote here, but I can't remember anything offhand.

Re:You keep using that word... (4, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606647)

As to Sun Tzu quotes, how about this one:

... there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.

Re:You keep using that word... (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606655)

They already do that. Apple doesn't have anything like Dynamics or Universal Communicator. Apple doesn't offer infrastructure like a database (SQL Server) or an authentication encryption solution like Forefront. The problem Microsoft has is they are losing to Apple where Apple does have products not where they don't.

AS the judge said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606479)

Microsoft is just..."no cool" enough :)

right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606483)

my name is steve and I've been born again!

This is the same Microsoft that rewards only 10%. (3, Insightful)

bsy-1 (169906) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606485)

So if a team of 20 build a new widget, which rockets into fame (yes this is a work of fiction), then the 2 people will get all the credit, 16 will get credit for being there, and the other 2 will be blow standards. I don't think we have to worry about Microsoft changing.

Their structure almost defies innovation (2, Interesting)

Wee (17189) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606661)

I completely agree. The way they have things set up, it's a race to be that top 1 in 10 not to go out on a limb and risk being label as the loser. Stick with what you know, make sure you only color inside the lines, refine something that worked in the past (or for someone else). But come up with wildly new ideas and get them out the door? Nobody is signing up for that.

I know why they have this system in place, but it's so completely misguided them up to now that I don't know if they could recover from it (from a "OK, from now on we innovate!" perspective) even if they ditched it tomorrow.


I don't believe it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606487)

This has been Microsoft's line for the past, oh... FOREVER.

Also, what, Microsoft has just forgotten to innovate in the past? Now Ballmer has this genius idea and everything is going to work out alright for them?

Frankly, I think the real problem is Steve Balmer.

Re:I don't believe it. (4, Informative)

aix tom (902140) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606633)

When you go back a while, when die Microsoft ever really "Invent" something?

DOS bought from Seattle Computer Products, idea for Windows in general nicked from Xerox, Browser taken over from NCSA Mosaic, PSTools acquired from Sysinternals, etc....

The only difference now seems to be that Apple isn't willing to be bought up and/or hoodwinked into giving up their innovation to MS.

Well, that's it then. (3, Funny)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606497)

Thankfully, all it takes is a declaration from the CEO to turn everything around. (At this point, sarcasm should actually condense out of the air around you.)

"Innovate" (0)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606499)

You use that word a lot. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Standing ovation! (0)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606507)

Me first, anyone wants to join?

Re:Standing ovation! (1)

ElmoGonzo (627753) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606733)

Yeah, right. I'm behind you all the way Steve-0.

Microsoft's table is too large (4, Interesting)

the computer guy nex (916959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606519)

http://smallbizlink.monster.com/news/articles/897-apple-we-say-no-to-good-ideas-every-day [monster.com]

"Well, we are the most focused company that I know of, or have read of, or have any knowledge of. We say no to good ideas every day. We say no to great ideas in order to keep the amount of things we focus on very small in number, so that we can put enormous energy behind the ones we do choose, so that we can deliver the best products in the world. In fact, the table that each of you are sitting at today, you could probably put every product on it that Apple makes, and yet Apple’s revenue last year was over $40 billion. I think the only other company that could say that is an oil company."

Microsoft is too large and unfocused to sustain innovation. They will continue to be fast followers, and still make plenty of money doing it.

Re:Microsoft's table is too large (3, Insightful)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606619)

Microsoft has NEVER been innovators. Microsoft has always been adopters. They buy and adopt other companies technology.

Re:Microsoft's table is too large (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606669)

I don't know. Hard drive densities are pretty large nowadays.

He doesn't get it. To hell with innovation. (5, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606531)

We're at a stage in the computer industry where innovation is the LAST thing we need.

What we need is bug fixes and "refinement". Microsoft didn't need to force Metro on us...they just needed to perfect Windows 7. Apple isn't redesigning OS X every 2 years. They're tweaking it an making it better.

The endless push for NEW products is what screws up the computer industry. Nothing is ever actually *finished*.

Re:He doesn't get it. To hell with innovation. (2)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606639)

In the mobile market you need to innovate or your die. Just ask RiM.

Anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606539)

If you're worried about being out-innovated by a company whose whole business is based on repackaging mature technologies in shiny, idiot-proof boxes, you're in real trouble.

Because... (1)

yt8znu35 (1202731) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606553)

...it's too late.

"spreading itself too thin"? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606561)

Microsoft runs the continued risk of spreading itself too thin and not really having a fundamental impact in any one market."

They've got a lot more zeros and commas and stuff in their bank account balance than me, that's for sure. They ought be be able to afford to spread out quite a bit before risking being too "thin" anywhere. When you have that much cash in the bank you ought to be able to draft a memo and toss it in the air and a month from now there's a new large building somewhere staffed full of talented people with one purpose, to make what you just wrote down happen. Why should we think MS can't do that?

I don't think the coverage is the problem. You have to have brilliant minds at the top to toss out memos like that to provide direction in the first place. That's where MS has been failing for so long. They're like a troll, big and powerful, and truly a scary thing to be up against in theory, but it's not the muscle that's the problem.

Re:"spreading itself too thin"? (4, Insightful)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606597)

When their key UI insight is to remove the Start button from their next OS release, you know they have problems......

Ooh, this is going to hurt... (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606567)

If Ballmer thinks that his problem is being 'out-innovated' by Apple, his attempt to respond is going to be about as effectual as a fish out of water.

Apple doesn't really do innovation as much as they do polished, decisive, takes on things that were previously relegated to niche status or mediocrity. They've also shown a historical willingness to murder even their popular products in order to introduce something that they like better(ipod mini being the most notable recent example: killed at the height of its popularity in favor of more expensive and lower-capacity flash-based products, because rotating media were deemed sufficiently inelegant.

If 'innovation' were the problem, Microsoft could trivially bury Apple in wacky stuff coming out of MS research. As it is, though, they can't even refrain from eating any of their own young that don't play nicely enough with Windows/Office, and they have a veritable talent for squandering even the technical superiority areas that they do have by making them too expensive or too complex for individual users(eg. MS had volume shadow copy in full working order since server 2003, and has substantial clout in terms of getting OEMs to build things, plus an embedded OS to license to them for the purpose. So why is it that they let Apple beat them to releasing a usable-by-morons home backup system(based on a rather more primitive and hacky architecture) 4 years later?)

Re:Ooh, this is going to hurt... (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606665)

Well they did kill the Zune. Granted it was still born.

It's an easy thing to say (5, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606581)

It is. It's an easy thing to say. And very soothing to stockholders I'm sure. But how are you going to do it? It's sort of like saying "I'm going to have an innovative idea by 3pm tomorrow!" Ok, that's great. How exactly do you do that?

Innovation isn't something you simply decide you're going to have, and then you have it.

What you can do is to change your culture, foster ideas, hire people and don't abuse them. Make your environment a place where innovation can happen. I'm looking at you forced curve. [glassdoor.com] People who think "outside the box" do not like being put in one. If you set up your environment to where only drones do well, then drones are what you'll have. Any real rogue thinkers in the Microsoft structure would get crushed like ants. Need I remind you Einstein did some of his best work while he was getting poor reviews as a patent clerk?

And innovation isn't something you can really buy, either. Although MS tries. The current MS policy of borg-like assimilation of any outside company that might have a good idea isn't really working, is it? It's a wonderful tribute to the amount of money you have, but it hasn't produced any sort of good results I can think of in a decade. Hell, you guys couldn't even keep Hotmail working. They were the #1 gold standard, and Google waltzed right into that space with Gmail and it's a done deal now.

In short, if you want to lead you better change. Your culture is all wrong for innovation.

Hasn't worked the past 30 years.... (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606583)

...why would it work now......

Make your own hardware and make it cool (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606607)

Then use Eric Cartman marketing (telling everyone they can't have it). The problem with MS right now is that it has no quality control over what its software is put on, and it's perceived as common and cheap. Apple markets itself as the exact opposite.

Talk is cheap... (4, Insightful)

dtjohnson (102237) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606611)

Microsoft is always talking about what they're gonna do. They need to just shut up and actually DO something. Their last innovative product was when they created the GUI version of the spreadsheet and called it 'Excel.' Since then, the innovation has been a little slow. The problem starts with Ballmer. He is not thinking about cool stuff that can be done with tech. No, he's thinking about how he can make money doing cool stuff that others are doing. As they say in Texas, Microsoft is all hat and no cattle.

Khan Noonien Ballmer (2)

kdogg73 (771674) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606615)

Can I compare this to Khan's tunnel vision on the incapacitated Reliant as he's still going after the Enterprise at the end of Wrath?

Re:Khan Noonien Ballmer (2)

kehren77 (814078) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606729)


Innovation != Buyout (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606625)

Innovation does not mean buying out new startups with promising technology.

It means investing in people, technology, and software, building towards a hoped-for future.

Neither Apple nor MicroSoft have done much innovating in the past 25 years. All they've done is fine tune, repackage, and buy startups that were promising or a threat.

Until the bottom line is the corporate future instead of the shareholder payout, it won't change, either.

Re:Innovation != Buyout (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606705)

The iPod, iPhone, and iPad are all considered innovations. But please pontificate on how Apple hasn't innovated in the past 25 years. Market Analysts would disagree as would Apple's stock price.....

natch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606631)

Pretty sure the gum stuck to my sneaker can out innovate Ballmer and Microsoft these days...

Genius! (5, Funny)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606637)

Perhaps he also should have mentioned that he intends for Microsoft to sell more, higher value products and to earn more money!

How do they think of these things? They just must be thinking all the time over there at Microsoft!

Innovation from MS? No thanks (4, Insightful)

JDG1980 (2438906) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606643)

Frankly, I don't even want Microsoft to be "innovative." At this point, they're pretty much like a public utility – I prefer when they're doing their work in the background, and I mostly only notice if they screw something up.

The fundamental problem is that Microsoft should be transitioning from a high-growth company to a stable, mature company – from a financial perspective, less emphasis on stock appreciation and more on dividends. People – and more importantly, businesses – rely on Microsoft for un-sexy features like backwards compatibility, familiarity, installed base, and stability (some of the older Slashdotters may laugh, but Windows 7 really is a rock-stable OS, and even a fully patched XP isn't bad.) The fact is that Windows became "good enough" for most users years ago, and everything since then has been either incremental improvements or actual degradation. There hasn't been any major positive "paradigm shift" on the desktop and there won't be. Some users will find that they don't need a full-fledged PC and will transition to tablets, but many, perhaps a majority, still need the power and/or flexibility that only a complete desktop OS can offer. This is Microsoft's niche. They need to focus on it and stop chasing phantoms.

Not on our watch (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606667)

Not on our watch

Does he include the 12 years he has already been CEO, or does he mean starting now? Starting next year? Starting on an as yet to be released starting date?

Have you sold your Microsoft stock yet? (1)

bbbaldie (935205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606685)

There's still time!

Meanwhile.. (1)

TimothyDavis (1124707) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606689)

And I am sure that Apple will soon release an Apple TV product that shakes up the market and makes Microsoft look stupid for being there already (media center, xbox), but not actually ever having a product that was compelling.

Home theaters are just begging for simplification – and I don’t expect that Microsoft will be the one to deliver.

I'm skeptical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606745)

Innovation is about both being able to pick a good path and traveling down the path to design a great product.
      These are two inter-related things with path adjustments as the design process proceeds.

uSoft says: "We are trying to make absolutely clear we are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple"

They certainly have the resources to run down a few paths at the same time,
      It appears that they now also have the will to use their resources.

Since most of the possible design paths result in products which are not great,
        and even uSoft doesn't have infinite resources,
            they still need the good taste to pick an outstanding path.

To date, this has not been their strong suit.

Perhaps a better strategy would be to look outside and gobble up small companies that have stumbled onto useful paths.


The limits of decrees and fiats ... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606771)

Well, he might as well order the waves to stop, like King Canute. Or follow the more recent example from North Carolina, ordering the Atlantic Ocean not to rise non-linearly.

Hmm (1)

joh (27088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606775)

Going after Apple and then telling in which areas MS won't be out-innovated anymore is not the same as innovation. Innovation doesn't mean to be better than others in the same markets. It means creating new markets and new product categories. Just being as good or better than Apple would mean shit if Apple then comes with the next big thing MS had never even wasted a thought on.

Of course this is pure theory, since I don't think we will see that much innovation from Apple anymore. Still, these are laughable comments from a CEO. It's pretty clear that Ballmer doesn't even know what innovation actually means.

Ballmer should have said ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606781)

... None shall pass! [youtube.com]

Wait ... we've been here before (1)

phonewebcam (446772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606793)

He demonstrated his stunning visionary abilities [youtube.com] a while back - how'd that work out for you, Steve?

Developers developers developers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606799)

give us Microsoft Bob and Clippy.

Apple or Jobs? (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40606813)

A big part of the reason Apple has been so successful is that they devote the bulk of their attention to only a few select market areas.

Apple without Jobs almost went bankrupt once. They probably have another year or so to complete projects he had going. After that it might be easier for Microsoft to be as innovative as the post-Jobs Apple.

And just to make absolutely sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40606831)

He's resigning, right?

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