“New is easy. Right is hard.”
Steve Ballmer has announced that he has called it quits:
Microsoft Corp. today announced that Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has decided to retire as CEO within the next 12 months, upon the completion of a process to choose his successor. In the meantime, Ballmer will continue as CEO and will lead Microsoft through the next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company that empowers people for the activities they value most.
“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”
Much has been said about Ballmer, because he had big shoes to fill since he replaced Gates as Microsoft’s CEO in 2000. Very similar to the Jobs-Cook transition at Apple, a major tech behemoth is changing from a visionary-driven to a numbers-driven company, credentials-wise. Even as evident in the internal letter he sent to his employees, you can tell he does mean business.
But despite the bad rap he is getting from the press, I still think he did an exemplary performance at the helm.
Yes, Windows Vista was cleared under his throne, after a very lengthy development of what was once idealistic project known as “Longhorn”. Yes, he did not see the potential of the iPhone. Yes, he did not give Zune and Courier some fighting chances in the market.1
But then, he also cleared Windows 7, which is still popular that people would still stick to it rather than switch to a Mac, or rather, upgrade to Windows 8. And speaking of Windows 8, even though it’s not performing as well as the press would have liked it to be, is a product essential in redefining what Microsoft needs to be. It must have taken serious guts for someone at Redmond to disrupt the familiarity of Windows in order to push it forward.2 Windows Phone, while still playing catch-up in the global smartphone market, has unstoppable growth in recent quarters. Microsoft Office is still dominant everywhere, not to mention the countless enterprise tools that they offer.
And I haven’t even mentioned Xbox yet.
The biggest puzzle at the moment is the name of his successor. We can tell that although he remains to be the chairman, it’s almost certain that Bill won’t be back at the spot because he’s dealing with more important issues. Steven Sinofsky, the man behind the lengthy development process of Windows, is obviously out of the question.
Now, what would make a good CEO of Microsoft?
One of the company’s priorities, I’d argue, should be its consumer perception. Sure, I believe Microsoft still has a stronghold in the enterprise market, but it has to win the hearts of the general public back. This can be done through communicating the products better, avoiding the confusion on the Xbox One’s details as an example. Windows Phone needs more marketing muscle and deserves the same attention Windows 8 gets, in terms of marketing.3
Most importantly, the next guy should be the epitome of Microsoft’s vision. More than just the numbers-crunching, he has to show his inherent passion for his role. What should tick him more is not just the billions of profit that Microsoft may rake in from a product, but how that particular product is different and how it impacts people’s lives.
I just hope it wouldn’t be Scott Forstall.
Disclaimer: Since this July, I joined Microsoft Philippines as part of the Microsoft Student Partner program. All views that you may see in this website are mine, and is not representative of Microsoft’s stance on things.
“In the Philippines, Facebook is literally becoming the internet.”
"She’s just a blogger. Why would I quote her?"
"He is just a blogger, and yet people expect to believe him?"
Before I begin, I would like to share that I have this allergy to the term blogging. Blogger, even. Coming from years of being a content consumer, these terms paint me a different picture from what I believe the concept really is.
From a technical perspective, I can argue that the weblog is the most prevalent form of website nowadays, ever slightly ahead of social networks. It’s a pretty simple concept: you create content, typically something about what happened in the physical world, and then you ‘log’ it online. Hence, weblog. So, websites of publications like The New York Times and Wired magazine fit the technical definition of what blogs are.
But in its purest sense, I believe that those websites I linked to are not actually ‘blogs’. They are full-blown, well-managed, news websites. Yes, they post content, but they are mere digital equivalents of what they are known for in real life: a news paper and a magazine, in this case. The editorial quality and integrity of these publications between the print and online versions have little to no difference.
Weblogs are something more different. They’re more of digital representations of our journals. Our diaries. Slambooks, even. A world full of our thoughts. (Ideas on Things is in this category.)
There is a middle ground between these two extremes, though. Given the enormous amount of liberty the internet has bestowed upon us, some people who write on the weblogging format try to cross the line and start news websites on their own, effectively calling them ‘indies’ in the form of journalism in the new media. These are not well-trained, but they want to be a part of it anyhow. These individuals aspire to be the next The Verge or the next, God forbid, Gizmodo.
These are what I call blogs.
The intentions of the noisier ones (yep, like Gizmodo) are questionable. Are they in it because they want to deliver relevant information, or they’re just doing it for the money? Do they venture in journalism because they want to be the messengers, or to be paid advertisers?
Maybe the two idiots I quoted above have a point, after all.
In some websites, they are dead-on obvious. Instead of focusing on the content, expect bombarding ads all over. AdSense everywhere. Lots of SEO rubba jubba on every corner of the site, all printed in classic Arial font. And don’t get me started on showing up a modal right on loading the website, asking me to like your Facebook page before I read your well-written content. As soon as I hit that close button I will kick your ass.
Then there goes the modal. I start to read your ‘blog’, I learned something new. Hey, this is nice new information. And before I have said that, I have to go through the agony of trying to get past the grammar nazi within me. Oh, also look! Editorialized content from an article supposed to be classified as ‘hard news’!1
Writing on the web is no different than writing in the physical realm, medium aside. A great sense of responsibility is required, moreso if you really want to be the next big publication out there. You have to write well-written content on it. Immediacy is not required; but if the need arises, there’s a reason why weblogging software have edit buttons ready.
At the same time, user experiences matter. Never compromise on how you would present yourself in front of potentially millions of readers. Don’t look desperate and focus on your content, not on ads, if you want your subscribers to take you seriously. One of Matt Gemmell’s latest articles is a must-read.
Most importantly, producing great, well-thought content shows that you care. You care enough to want people to take you seriously. You care enough that you want people to be informed, not what your advertiser wants your audience to know. Because that matters a lot. And earned trust matters more than just revenues.
If you belong to that middle ground, keep in mind that you are already a journalist. Fake it ‘till you make it, so they say. Get your pants up and act like one. Because once you enter the industry, you are already a part of it. Credibility and sensibility, not sensationalism, is what it takes for our independent industry to take off.
Because before everyone will take us seriously, we should take ourselves first seriously. We belong to the new media. We shape the future.
And I don’t want it to be a future full of marketing gimmicks on a news site.
Taking a page from Fox News and ABS-CBN News, I see. Nice. ↩