Nobody can doubt Steve Ballmer’s passion when he speaks. Cut him in half and I am sure you will find Microsoft written down the middle like a stick of candy rock. However, it is where his passion is directed that is particularly of interest. He has always struck me as a man who’s passion is to be recognized as the CEO of Microsoft! His passion seems to be driven by what he sees as Microsofts right to be the biggest and best. His comments in the past have always been to belittle anything others do as a way of making him feel superior in Microsoft.
His words this week to CRN do little to change this appearance. He talks about “leaving no stone unturned” in the fight against Apple and the iPad. His whole response comes over as a man trying to catch up with Apple.
Playing catch up is not being innovative. Taking what others have already invented and improving on it is excellent but it is not innovation…..it is improvement. You can’t say “innovation” when you are copying. Microsoft is copying Apple by bringing hardware and software together under their control (something that Bill Gates ridiculed Steve Jobs for in the past). It is copying Apple by looking at an iPhone equivalent. His whole approach is of a man desperately trying to be like Apple while shouting “We are better than them”. Even Steve Ballmer’s style of speaking has been modified over the years to be like Steve Jobs!
I am not saying that Microsoft is not innovative. In fact they have been very innovative in the past, but they are now too focused on beating Apple than carving their own niche in the world. They are sat on loads of innovations (and have been for years) but are not bringing them to market because they are too focused on beating Apple at what Apple is good at.
At least they did not put their head in the sand like RIM did, but Microsoft needs to think back to what Steve Job’s said about about Apple’s come back from the brink. “Apple doesn’t need to beat Microsoft……. Apple needs to remember who Apple is”.