Microsoft finally goes Steve’s way – Imitating Apple’s success

12 October 2012 04:12 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Nayomini Weerasooriya
There was and will always be one Steve Jobs, the man who introduced the world to his take on everything from phones to tablets and of course computers. His creativity made Apple the world’s most valuable company. Jobs has been compared frequently with his somewhat of a rival Bill Gates but the comparison ended there. Microsoft and Apple were chalk and cheese until another Steve came along to become the CEO at Microsoft and thought why not, let’s take a leaf off Apple’s book.

Microsoft - Apple contrast
Steve Ballmer looks nothing like El Jobso but seems to be inspired by the right things Apple has done. The success of Apple had Steve Jobs at its core but was not limited to him alone – the fact that it has emerged right at the top even after his death proves that the company has been on the right track, all along.

So, it must come sooner or later that everyone else wants to emulate at least a bite off Apple’s worldwide success. The iconic status of each of its products, its sleek and effective seamless connections through product ranges and its unique design – according to his biography, Jobs was obsessed with Zen like clean and clear brushed aluminum – is to be envied and admired.

When Ballmer addressed the Microsoft shareholders recently, he gave insights into what the software giant was planning – to take a leaf off Apple’s book. Microsoft may make its own phone and also a surface tablet PC. In addition to ensuring that its market leader X Box gaming console stays on top.
Ballmer hinted that the company may look at developing specific products for specific purposes, an approach that mimics Apple closer than ever before. In comparison to Apple’s sleek, ultra chic units from Macs to iPhones and iPads, Microsoft products have been reported to feel ‘clunky’; in comparison to Apple’s iconic status carefully cultivated through everything from the black turtleneck and jeans Steve Jobs wore as staples to his hit ideas that turned unique products into must-haves, Microsoft has an industrious feel about its matter-of-fact products, say the analysts.



Steve - CEO Microsoft
Ballmer even dressed to emulate Steve Jobs as he addressed the crowd at a recent launch for HTC Microsoft phone. The screen behind him read in big bold letters ‘Steve – CEO Microsoft’. There was something of Steve Jobs in the whole appearance, something that recalled the much-awaited Apple events Jobs used to address.

It seemed that Microsoft was going one step ahead of its ‘ecosystem’ status as spelled out by Ballmer. Although he confirmed that the company will continue to work with traditional hardware partners such as Dell and Samsung, the company would also look at new avenues, new opportunities of growth.
“It impacts how we run the company, how we develop new experiences and how we take products to market for both consumers and businesses,” he wrote.

Ballmer, who took over from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, hinted that there would be a moving away from the traditional business model of selling installed software. Although the company already makes money from providing services online, such as access to servers to enable ‘cloud computing’, or Web versions of its Office applications, it seems a changing of gears is needed to go where Apple has gone before them.
Analysts say that flat sales for Windows and lackluster performance have seen Ballmer not earning his bonus, billed at twice his salary, which is still low by U.S. standards for chief executives, remaining essentially flat at $685,000.



Gates – a bit narrow  
Microsoft has been scarred further by a $6.2 billion write-down for a failed acquisition and lower profit from its flagship Windows system as computer sales stayed put.
An embarrassing setback for the software giant has been its inability to provide a browser choice in Europe; the company has been embroiled in disputes with European regulators for over ten years and has had to fork out over $1 billion in fines for having its own Internet Explorer browser on Windows. On the whole, it has been overtaken on the web by Google and has lost the initial thrust of MSN.

Commenting on Gates, Steve Jobs once said, “I wish him the best. I just think he and Microsoft are a bit narrow. He’d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid (meaning taking drugs) or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.” Jobs did both and believed it contributed to his creativity. At the same time, he also had developed weird eating and drinking habits that saw him drink fruit juice and purge his body ‘clean’, habits which saw his health suffer, according to his biography.

So, now, Ballmer has chosen to follow Apple. Had El Jobso been alive, given his eccentric ways, he may have reacted or even laughed it off, for nothing gave him more pleasure than to see his rivals emulate his success.
As we ponder the path of seamless communications and computers, infused with smartphones, tablets and voice command apps, it seems the future is going to be a one way street for companies committed to innovation, as Apple had been. And now Microsoft is set to follow them.

(Nayomini, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional can be contacted at nayominiweerasooriya@gmail.com)
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