Is it a sign of Trouble at’ Mill? Or just another corporate shake-up while business goes on as usual? Microsoft yesterday announced the departure of leading Entertainment and Devices executives Robbie Bach and J. Allard. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will take charge of the division, with Don Mattrick running the Xbox side and Andy Lees the mobile business.
There are clearly problems for Microsoft in its mobile business. All the various iterations of its mobile phone software over the years have failed to make significant market impact as Apple and, now, Google, make the running.
Microsoft’s biggest problem is that consumer is still a relatively small and fragmented part of its overall business. It’s losing out to Apple, and others, in the consumer market because its primary corporate focus continues to be business users of Windows. Apple, which, not through lack of effort, never achieved prominence in business markets, has been able to focus its strategy on the consumer space without the hindrance of adhering to a corporate software strategy.
From Microsoft’s perspective it might seem logical to group Xbox, music players and mobile phones under one roof, but this makes less obvious sense to the outside world. Xbox has been successful largely because it has been left alone to formulate its own strategy focused on games, entertainment and the digital home. Dan Mattrick, whom I met last summer
to discuss Xbox strategy, should now try to persuade Ballmer that the Xbox team needs to remain a discrete unit with liberty to forge its own direction, and if necessary outside of the demands of the corporate Windows strategy if necessary.
With the launch of Natal imminent, the continued ramping up of online services based around the Xbox 360, and the plateauing of Xbox 360 sales
, Microsoft can ill afford a dilution in focus because of this disruption to the senior management team.
Other Blog Posts Of Interest:
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Sony’s PS3 to Win Current Games Console Battle; SA Forecasts 47.5 Million Global Console Market in 2010
Sky Player Finally Arrives Where It Belongs, But Work Still to be Done
TV or Videogame? 1 vs 100 on Xbox Live Offers Lifeline To Appointment Viewing
Client Reading: Taming the Waves: Games Console Life Cycles and Platform Competition