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Is XBox One A Catalyst To Consider As Ballmer Retires From Microsoft?

Stocks in this article: GOOG MSFT NOK SNE

Chris Lau, Kapitall: Will the Xbox One help Microsoft in the wake of CEO Steve Ballmer's departure, or does it not matter?

When Steve Ballmer retires from Microsoft ( MSFT ), opinion will be mixed. The CEO led Microsoft successfully, by growing sales and share price. What he failed to do quickly was position Microsoft as a credible devices and services company.

Click on the interactive chart to see MSFT quarterly sales and market cap compared.

So where next from here? Two things that will likely weigh on Microsoft after Ballmer retires are the Surface tablet and the phone division.

Tablet strategy

Microsoft’s Surface strategy has yet to play out successfully. The initial Surface RT was not as popular as they had hoped, and the company needed to write down much of the hardware inventory. But the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 were recently launched, and could find greater success.

Lumia unit purchased

When Microsoft closes its purchase of the Lumia division from Nokia ( NOK ), it will have full control of the smartphone’s development. Profitability could remain a challenge, but Microsoft appears to be willing to act aggressively to grow market share.

Together with the Lumia 1520 tablet launch, Microsoft could start to gain inroads in the mobile space. In Q3, Microsoft more than doubled its sales compared to last year. It now has 3.6% of the worldwide market:

smartphone sales

Source: Gartner

Software remains strong

Ballmer also leaves behind the Office and Server software divisions. In the most recent quarter, Office product sales grew 11%. Cloud applications are becoming increasingly prevalent, and important, which means Google’s (GOOG) Docs will likely become a more competitive threat to Microsoft’s Office 365.

And the company’s SQL Server continues to be strong. Its next version, SQL Server 2014, will offer in-memory and cloud capabilities.

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