As much as Apple needed and needs co-founder Steve Jobs manning the bridge on the Mac maker’s ship of state, Jobs owes Microsoft founder Bill Gates a debt of gratitude. One of the best things to happen to Apple in the past eight years as been the reign of Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer. His missteps, miscues, and misguided muscle help Apple every day.
Nothing is wrong. All is working and running as it should—from Apple’s perspective.
Bill Gates gave up the ghost of day-to-day management of Microsoft many years ago, moving the experienced, loyal, abrasive, and irascible Ballmer into the CEO position.
Amid cries for Ballmer’s head as Microsoft falters, bumbles, and stumbles through one bad deal, investment, or project after another, Apple needs to offer comfort and support, to aid and abet the enemy, so to speak.
Apple needs Steve Ballmer to stay atop Microsoft.
The Empire Strikes Out
Since Gates stepped aside, or went publicly comatose, Ballmer has sailed Microsoft’s ship through turbulent waters, delivering the goods of mediocre products and stock performance to customers and investors (whether they liked it or not).
Despite rough seas, an oft broken rudder, and oarsmen jumping ship like the rats off the Titanic, Microsoft remains wildly, crazily, predictably, obscenely profitable.
Wither art thou reasons for profitability? It’s not anything Ballmer did, or is doing. The reason for Microsoft’s blatant profitability, despite a decade of failures, is, in a word, monopoly. Maybe, illegal monopoly.
The stock market loves to bet on a winner and Microsoft has been a winner, making countless numbers of investors rich, filthy rich, obscenely rich, and sometimes, richer than God. That’s good reason to cut Microsoft a little slack, no?
No, for that was then, and this is now. Despite a recent uptick on MSFT, due largely to Microsoft buying back massive quantities of it’s own stock from the billions of dollars of ill gotten gains, the stock has flat lined for years.
Compare Microsoft’s five year stock performance to that of Apple, and the Dow Jones’ Industrial average.
A picture tells a thousand words. Microsoft makes billions despite daily failure, and, some would say, needs to offer a debt of thanks to the U.S. Department of Justice.
For some crazy reason known only to the executives perched atop the company’s Redmond, WA ivory towers, Microsoft seems to want to dominate every business it enters.
Like the crazed harlot depicted in Revelation’s Babylon the Great, Ballmer and his company’s culture seem to lust after more dominance, only to fail time and again to repeat the Windows and Office rulership.
These days, Microsoft wants to defeat arch rival Google in the online advertising space. If Microsoft is a one-trick pony, what is Google?
Unable to defeat Google in the marketplace (where is a good illegal monopoly when you need one these days?), Microsoft shifted gears and attacked the next best thing, a very distance second place search engine, an online advertising entity known as Yahoo.
Thus far, Microsoft’s public bludgeoning of Yahoo’s executives and board notwithstanding, the Windows maker is readying itself for another public humiliation. Yahoo just said no.
Oh, the Humanity!
Windows Vista was years late and much derided in the industry. Too much, too little, too late. While Vista sells well because it’s installed on 90-percent of all PCs sold, it hasn’t exactly set the business world on fire.
Add Vista’s woes and MSN’s failures to the embarrassing Yahoo takeover attempt to a lackluster stock performance, and Wall Street is crying out for Steve Ballmer’s head on a plate.
Such a headache would be disastrous for Apple, basking in glory for years, taking market after market away from Microsoft, and hoarding cash nearly as well as Gates himself.
Apple needs Steve Ballmer.
Many analysts agree with me, noting that Microsoft does not have an heir apparent (dictators seldom do), and, many think that no one human could get the company out of the mess Ballmer has made anyway.
While Ballmer, ever the neoNero, has fiddled the empire away, the Rome that Gates built is burning. Frankly, between you and me, I consider that a good thing. Microsoft can burn for many years to come. In the meantime, Apple steals the night, market share, profit share, mind share.
Apple needs Steve Ballmer.