OK so there are times when a magazine asks you a question and you pause and give a diplomatic answer.
There are times when you need to realize that the words you say on behalf of your company may be dissected and reprinted all around the world and, on the eve of a very important product launch, it shouldn’t be a major gaffe.
Someone needs to take Craig Mundie’s microphone away.
Who is Craig Mundie? Well on the web, this is the job he has:
Craig Mundie, 63, is Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer. He is, in essence, the company’s leading visionary, tasked with creating new products and making Microsoft sexy again. Mundie has been working for Microsoft since 1992.
So it’s with great sorrow, shock and horror that I found out what he said to the website Spiegel.de.
Here’s the first part of the quote:
SPIEGEL: Microsoft’s track record at anticipating technological trends hasn’t always been the best. With the Surface tablet and the new Windows 8 software you are now targeting the mobile market in particular. Is it 10 years too late once again?
Mundie: My response is that we had a music player before the iPod. We had a touch device before the iPad. And we were leading in the mobile phone space. So, it wasn’t for a lack of vision or technological foresight that we lost our leadership position. The problem was that we just didn’t give enough reinforcement to those products at the time that we were leading. Unfortunately, the company had some executional missteps, which occurred right at the time when Apple launched the iPhone. With that, we appeared to drop a generation behind.
I wouldn’t remind people of all the stuff you no longer lead in. Not a good look.
But here’s the damning part:
SPIEGEL: What happened?
Mundie: During that time, Windows went through a difficult period where we had to shift a huge amount of our focus to security engineering. The criminal activity in cyberspace was growing dramatically ten years ago, and Microsoft was basically the only company that had enough volume for it to be a target. In part because of that, Windows Vista took a long time to be born.
OK, a little note to the PR people at Redmond.
Talking about what led to Apple’s dominance needs to be off limits to every Microsoft executive from the top down.
There’s simply no way to make it sound good or defend it.
This sounds like what happens when Republican men start to talk about female body parts or rape – you know it’s not going to end well.
Here’s the deal.
Apple out-innovated everyone else when they had the chance and now they are the biggest company in the world. Any “explanation” of why that happened only looks awful and weak when read in print.
A company with billions of dollars that gets distracted by (substantial) security concerns is still a company that has lost it’s way.
Whatever the reasons are that led to Apple’s dominance need to stay in the past.
Let bloggers, Apple fanboys and others talk about those reasons.
Microsoft execs need to leave this alone.