Rather, what Microsoft needs to become relevant in the consumer space again are Marissa Mayer and Yahoo! (YHOO).
The new frontiers in the great ecosystems war are shifting very quickly. Google (GOOG), Apple (AAPL), Microsoft, Amazon (AMZN) and Facebook (FB) are playing an ever-higher-stakes game across an ever-wider battlefield of frontiers.
In this battle of the giants -- Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon -- it is not a matter of optimizing and fine-tuning an assembly line of steel and plastic-based boxes. To be sure, devices are still made (mostly in Asia) and sold through various distribution networks.However, these American "Fab Five" technology giants are not winning or losing based on the relative efficiency of this-or-that assembly line. BlackBerry (BBRY) and Palm had access to perfectly good assembly lines -- and look at where that got them. Apple didn't win market share across various product lines in the last five to 15 years because it had superior factories. Rather, Apple's gains were about far more fundamental architectural choices in combination with product definition and design. The difficulty facing Microsoft now is all about architecture and specific product definition. The architectural issue is about seeing the emergence of a whole new set of technological forces, and how they will enable new use cases. This is the level of problem Tesla (TSLA) is solving in betting 100% on the electric car, and that Google and Salesforce (CRM) solved in terms of creating cloud services to replace PC software. The second problem -- specific product definition -- is one of taste-making. It's not too different from the fashion industry. Would Ralph Lauren (RL) have become Ralph Lauren without Ralph Lauren? There is a reason fashion houses almost always wear the founder's name -- it's all about one person's taste-making. Do you remember Frank Lloyd Wright, or do you remember the construction company that poured the cement on time? Exactly. Steve Jobs was the taste-maker of the technology industry. From the Mac, to the iMac, to the MacBook, to the iPod, iPhone and iPad -- along with much of the software -- Steve Jobs all but had his name on Apple's door.
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