I’ve been saying for a while now, ever since it became clear just how dreadful Vista was going to be, that Microsoft was starting its long, slow decline. Now, others are jumping on the dump-on-Microsoft bandwagon.
Most damning of all, Goldman Sachs has downgraded Microsoft from “buy” to “neutral,” spit on the company’s feeble mobile computing efforts and suggested that Microsoft divide itself into consumer and enterprise divisions .
It couldn’t happen to a nicer company — well except for Oracle. Microsoft got to the top not by delivering great products — ever — but by Bill Gates’ white-shark approach to business competition. Even after the Department of Justice slammed it with an antitrust suit, weak enforcement left Microsoft to continue on its way. It was only after Gates left on July 1, 2008, that the company started to lose its mojo.
The first mistake was picking Steve Ballmer as CEO. Ballmer was then, is now and always will be a fine business-to-business salesman. That’s it. As I write this story, in early October, Microsoft has a market cap of $206.91 billion. That’s well behind Apple’s $ 254.56 billion. If you had asked anyone in the summer of 2008 whether Apple would be worth almost $50 billion more than Microsoft, they would have laughed themselves silly. No one, least of all in Redmond, is laughing now.