Just a note: RCPU has next week off, so you won't see this newsletter online or in your inbox. As we do every year (although I think we forgot to do it last year), we wish you our traditional Happy Thanksgiving from R-C-P-U!
Anyway, let's finish off the week by running some reader feedback. Although it's not exactly at the heard of our readers' concerns, we just love writing about (OK, making fun of) the Kin, which might be on its way back for a curtain call. Reader Michael, though, says that the Kin wouldn't necessarily be headed for failure again if it were to reappear:
"For kids who want legitimate music (their parents don't want them to pirate) and who don't need a smartphone, the Kin makes sense. My daughter has a cell phone and a Zune (my wife and I each have Zune HDs), but I wouldn't think of getting her a Droid or BlackBerry. It isn't worth $39 per month for data for either. But, a phone/Zune combo with a $15 data plan would be something that I'd consider. Having written that, Microsoft would be better off focusing on getting Windows Phone 7 on Verizon."
Michael, what you say makes sense, which is why we fully expect Microsoft to screw it up somehow if the Kin does come back. For whatever reason, Microsoft has proven itself to be maladroit in the mobile space for a while now. The Kin has the stink of failure all over it. Could it shake it? Actually, we'd love to find out.
Have a comment on anything you've read on RCPU? Send it to email@example.com. We'll get to it after Thanksgiving.
Posted by Lee Pender on 11/18/2010 at 1:23 PM1 comments
Version 6.1 of Avaya's IP Office communication platform says goodbye Windows, hello Linux. The company claims collaboration, productivity and cost improvements. We'll see.
Posted by Lee Pender on 11/17/2010 at 1:23 PM0 comments
We can imagine that there were days of wine and roses at past Microsoft shareholder meetings. Champagne flowed, caviar gleamed and the whole affair had the feel of a huge gala dinner. OK, so maybe things weren't that fancy...but they were surely better than they are now.
The marriage between Microsoft and its shareholders, once so vibrant, has gone a bit...stale. Hence the decidedly not-party atmosphere at this week's shareholder meetings, in which rumblings and grumblings about the company's long-stagnant stock price drowned out whatever noise popping champagne corks might have made.
There were questions, some more burning than others, about everything from Windows Phone 7 to Bill Gates's sales of Microsoft shares to fund his immense charitable foundation. When pressed about why he was selling shares for charity rather than simply taking them off of Microsoft's books, Gates gave an excellent response, as quoted in the story linked above:
"I think the thrust of the question is, 'Are the current grantees of the foundation more deserving than turning the money over to Microsoft shareholders?' I've made the decision that that wealth is going to go into the foundation rather than being the reduction in the shares of Microsoft."
Good for you, Bill. Seriously. Nobody could ever accuse Bill Gates, of all people, of not being responsible to Microsoft's shareholders, and he should be able to use his shares for whatever purpose he chooses. The fact that he's selling them to pump money into his wonderful foundation is even more laudable.
That little exchange was just a sidelight, though, in the shareholder affair. The real bomb dropped when somebody asked Steve Ballmer about possibly breaking up Microsoft. Both Ballmer and Gates spoke to the topic, offerings answers a bit short on details and pretty long on, "Uh, no." And that's OK with us. (Check out the TechFlash link earlier in this paragraph for their full answers.)
We've never been proponents of a Microsoft breakup. We at RCPU do feel as though Microsoft should focus less on the futile pursuit of consumer hegemony and more on maintaining and expanding the company's enterprise empire. That's not tantamount, though, to saying that there should be multiple Microsofts. We're more interested in a more focused, less consumer-hungry Microsoft.
What we find interesting here is simply that the "break-up" question came up. Not much about what Ballmer or Gates said was surprising, but clearly there is some frustration boiling up from within the Microsoft shareholder base. We're guessing that shareholders are a long, long way from forcing a breakup of the company and will probably never get to that point. But if key players don't like the returns they're getting, they'll continue to make their voices hears.
Maybe the days of whine and thorns, then, have replaced the days of wine and roses in Redmond. Still, while the party might not be what it once was, it goes on -- as will Microsoft, as a single, still pretty darn strong entity. For now, anyway.
Should Microsoft break up? Why or why not? Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Lee Pender on 11/17/2010 at 1:23 PM4 comments
Ahahaha. Please, Microsoft and Verizon. Please do this. Please bring the Kin back.
Yes, that's right. Arguably the biggest flop in Microsoft history could -- although there's nothing official on this yet -- make a stunning return as a feature phone with a cheaper Verizon data plan. We really want this to happen.
Why? Because we enjoy poking fun at Microsoft from time to time here and many of Redmond's recent product offerings have been too good for ridicule. Windows 7 is a huge hit, and even Windows Phone 7 doesn't seem that bad. The various server offerings have been consistently very good, and the specter of Vista is pretty much gone.
Oh, it's not that we want Microsoft, or even the Kin, to fail. It's just useful, we think, to remind the software titan once in a while that it's capable of really embarrassing itself -- and that it shouldn't lose focus on its enterprise product lines in favor of thrusting swords at too many consumer windmills. That last bit is really the main thrust of our occasional jabs.
Besides, bringing back the Kin is kind of like making Ishtar 2, if that flop-movie reference still has any currency. (We could have gone with, say, More Cop Rock, but that's still pretty '80s. Your editor needs to stop watching TV Land.) Maybe it makes sense for the phones to be cheaper and not require such heavy data plans, but we can see a steady stream of jokes headed our way. Microsoft and Verizon, make it happen.
Why on earth would Microsoft try to bring back the Kin? Speculate at email@example.com.
Posted by Lee Pender on 11/15/2010 at 1:23 PM3 comments
This is probably a whole lot of nothing and really doesn't seem like a big deal, anyway, but you clicked, right? Anyhow, somebody's accusing Microsoft of inflating Windows revenue figures by bringing in numbers from other parts of the company, specifically the Entertainment and Devices Group. Uh, that seems kind of backwards to us. Windows needs help from the entertainment group? Really? We kind of doubt that.
Posted by Lee Pender on 11/15/2010 at 1:23 PM0 comments
The storage giant just got...more storage. One whole heck of a lot more, actually, with its purchase of Seattle-based Isilon. Ha, for once, an East Coast company consumes a West Coast firm. New England represent!
Posted by Lee Pender on 11/15/2010 at 1:23 PM0 comments