Troubling times sure do get people talking. And technology analysts usually have a field day whenever some vexing bits come out of Redmond. Microsoft is once again under fire after revealing its quarterly earnings last week.
Two of its flagship products — Windows 8 and Surface tablets — have been on the market for more than six months, but as far as market watchers are concerned, neither have had the impact that people were expecting.
Sure, there have been various reasons for the lukewarm response (or in case of Windows 8, lack of an overwhelming response), but it does provide enough material for analysts to claim that the company is becoming irrelevant.
Benedict Evans is one such analyst that believes this.
The reason cited, once again, is an overly obvious one. The Windows operating system continues to focus solely on desktop computers, while users are slowly migrating towards mobile platforms. What this means is that Microsoft’s share of connected devices is continually collapsing:
“The contrast with the exploding sales of the new wave of mobile UNIX devices is pretty obvious. The practical effect of this is that Microsoft’s share of connected devices sales (in effect, PCs plus iOS and Android) has collapsed from over 90% in 2009 to under a quarter today.”
Evans goes on to term Windows 95 as Microsoft’s moment of victory, as PCs were the only way to browse the Internet 18 years ago:
“Microsoft survived and thrived in the PC internet era, despite appearing to be irrelevant, by milking its victory in the previous phase of the technology industry. PC sales were 59m units in 1995 and rose to over 350m in 2012. Of course, that’s now coming to an end.”
While these are some scathing views, Microsoft itself has blamed the collapse of the PC industry for its declining sales. While analyst around the world are predicting an even more dramatic collapse for PC hardware, the fact remains that Redmond has done a good job of diversifying its product offering.
From an underdog in the cloud business to a surefire contender, the company has come a long way.
And along the way it is doing its best to merge two worlds together — the traditional PC and the trendy mobile — with some success. Sure, the first generation Surface RT left a fair bit to be desired, but the signs are not nearly enough to term a company like Microsoft irrelevant. Not yet.