The best choice then, I thought, was to break it up. Separate the enterprise business from the consumer business. Separate the utility businesses from the competitive businesses. But Ballmer's moves, and technology's progress, have conspired to make that almost impossible, except for the possible sale of the game unit.
A device company, and a PC now is no more than a device with a keyboard, depends on the backing of a scaled cloud in order to function. It requires integration through a network for support, for software sales, for its very being.
There are now four cloud-device companies - Apple, Google (GOOG), Amazon.Com, and Microsoft in that order - and it's hard to see another company getting into the mix because of this cloud-dependence. Of the four, Microsoft's position is weakest, because Windows is much weaker in the devices market than Android or iOS.Microsoft is betting that its enterprise dominance is going to keep it in the game until it can fix the problems with mobile Windows. BlackBerry (BBRY) thought that, too. But Microsoft is embedded far more closely into big businesses than BlackBerry ever was, so it would be foolish to dismiss it. Recently, as readers here know, I took my daughter on a cruise to Norway. The boat, owned by Royal Caribbean (RCL) had its own Apple store, and the computers in its "telegraph room" were all Macs running what it called WiFi (actually a shared satellite link providing modem-like speeds). But down inside the ship, in the kitchens and in the back-end processing, everything was Windows. A lot of it was Windows XP. Microsoft plans to retire XP next year and force business customers to upgrade. The success or failure of that effort, the decisions of companies like Royal Caribbean, will say more about the company's future than anything that comes out in the media. At the time of publication, the author held AAPL and GOOG. At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Follow @DanaBlankenhor This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
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