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ICYMI: Microsoft Is Pretty Pathetic

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) has a blog that people from the company, including executives, post on. There's some generally useful stuff on it, but, in many instances, it illustrates how impossible it will be for the company to gain any traction whatsoever in mobile, let alone top BlackBerry (BBRY - Get Report) for third place in the U.S.

Last week, Frank X. Shaw, Microsoft's corporate VP of corporate communications (the man with a redundant title and a wrestler's identity for a middle name), wrote a piece that helps us understand and appreciate Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) tendency to keep a lid on employee attempts at communicating company business.

Shaw uses "spring cleaning" as metaphor to feign an exciting past and even more promising future at Microsoft:
While we're still in early days, the numbers are encouraging. There are new PCs and tablets in market and great apps in the Windows Store, with new ones coming every day. Windows Phone has reached 10 percent market share in a number of countries, and according to IDC's latest report, has shipped more than Blackberry in 26 markets and more than iPhone in seven. (bold emphasis added)

Parallels exist between BlackBerry's implosion, as narrated by former co-CEO Jim Balsillie on absolutely absurd company conference calls, and the intermittent PR spins Microsoft feebly spews.

Like on the artist formerly known as RIM's Q4 2011 call where Balsillie spoke of "tens of thousands, several tens of thousands" of "corporate clients ... wanting" PlayBook tablets.

Imprecision. When you hear it from executives, be afraid. Before RIM imploded lots of people ignored the writing on the wall. Don't make the same mistake with Microsoft.

It's bad enough that Shaw was imprecise, but as the always-excellent Nick Wingfield in The New York Times "Bits Blog" pointed out last week, he's also being what amounts to disingenuous:
According to Kevin Restivo, an analyst at IDC, the countries where Windows Phone shipments exceeded those of iPhone during the fourth quarter were: Argentina, India, Poland, Russia, South Africa and Ukraine. A seventh "country" where Windows Phone shipments beat iPhone is actually a group of smaller countries, including Croatia, that IDC lumps together in a category called "rest of central and eastern Europe."
Mr. Restivo provided some context, though, that slightly diminishes the scale of Microsoft's success in those countries. Three of the markets -- Ukraine, South Africa and "rest of central and eastern Europe" -- are small enough that there were fewer than 100,000 Windows Phone unit shipments in the fourth quarter in each of them ...
Mr. Restivo said that Windows Phone tends to thrive in parts of the world that are traditional strongholds for Nokia (NOK - Get Report), Microsoft's flagship handset partner. In many of those markets, there is less demand for the iPhone because of its high cost and the lack of carrier subsidies.

No wonder why Shaw didn't name names. He must come from the Reed Hastings school of smoke and mirrors.

New PCs and tablets in market. And a growing number of "great apps in the Windows Store," Shaw gushed! But the conversation just shows how out of touch Microsoft is.

Pandora (P - Get Report) finally built an app for Windows Phone. The "editor" of the MSFT blog riffed about it several days ago.

I wouldn't even publicize something as embarrassing as that. Just let people assume Windows Mobile has always had one of the top grossing apps in Apple's App Store. It's that type of disingenuousness I can live with. You know, the type to spare your organization embarrassment, not bring on more.

At this stage of its development, Pandora or any other application will not push Windows Mobile over the top. If Microsoft subscribes to the notion that a great app selection -- which will never be better than, but, at best, only as good as everybody else's anyway -- acts as some difference maker, it's wrong. They're as out of touch as ever.
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