Microsoft Is Way Dumber Than Facebook

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Over the past several weeks, I have made the case that Facebook ( FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg could teach several older, more experienced executives a thing or two about running a tech company.

Zuckerberg schools Hewlett-Packard's ( HPQ) Meg Whitman, Netflix's ( NFLX) Reed Hastings and whoever deserves the blame for screwing up mobile at Intel ( INTC).

I make the case in:
  • HP's Meg Whitman Setting New Lows in CEO Incompetence
  • Netflix: Buy, Sell or Remain Confused?
  • Intel Missed Mobile Worse Than Facebook Did

    Enter Microsoft ( MSFT) CEO Steve "Please Don't Call Me Jim Balsillie" Ballmer. Here's a guy who just can't stop inserting his unwashed bare foot in his mouth.

    Former Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood would be less out of line taking shots at the 1990 New York Giants than Ballmer is when he jabs at Apple ( AAPL). Somebody needs to put a lid on this guy's ideas.

    Apparently . . . allegedly . . . reportedly (I really don't want it to be true), Microsoft plans on producing a Windows 8 smartphone. We're not talking about one made by Nokia ( NOK) or HTC. We're talking one designed in Redmond and assembled in China by Microsoft.

    Just a few weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg shot down those awful Facebook smartphone rumors that persisted for far too long. He was clear: It makes absolutely no sense for Facebook to do a smartphone.

    I agree for many reasons, particularly because nobody would buy it.

    The reasons why Microsoft shouldn't do its own smartphone differ from the reasons why Facebook shouldn't do one period. However, the overarching premise reads the same way in both cases.

    When Zuckerberg said Y'all are crazy, there's no way we're doing a smartphone, he basically explained that Facebook had to keep focus on doing the things it's good at. Connecting people. Making the world more social. And hustling revenue from its massive user base.

    Along similar lines, Ballmer and Microsoft should drop the dream of being just like Apple and starting focusing on the things Microsoft is good at.

    Admittedly, it can't abandon Windows. After all, Microsoft, even before Windows 8, has been good at Windows. Many of us like to dog it, but at day's end, it and Microsoft's entire suite of software gets the job done.

    And, there's no question Microsoft needs to make a mobile push with Windows 8. That's logical. It's not following Apple's lead there; rather, it's going where the customer is. Microsoft, like Facebook and Intel, should have seen this shift and acted accordingly some time ago, but that's got to be water under the bridge now.

    Zuckerberg could help Ballmer get his ADD under control.

    Stop trying to make your own hardware with one exception -- Xbox. Place focus there.

    Microsoft doesn't need to be like Apple. It doesn't need to fool itself into thinking it can. It needs to drop the swagger and make an honest assessment of reality.

    Any objective analysis clearly shows Microsoft has only two things on Apple: Office (which Apple could annihilate tomorrow) and a meaningful headstart and subsequent dominance in the living room.

    That begins and ends with Xbox and the appearance that Apple is having at least some difficulty moving its living room ambitions along.

    Microsoft should do whatever it can to make Xbox more mass appeal (despite the number of units sold, it still gets tagged by many as a product just for gamers) and ubiquitous.

    At least publicly Ballmer seems to be pushing everything but Xbox and Microsoft's Smart Glass app. He needs to not only connect Xbox with Windows 8, but with every other platform people might end up accessing in the living room. For goodness sake, don't anger Apple, make frenemies with the company.

    That's how Microsoft could win. Or at least not lose.

    If Apple will not cooperate, that's fine too. Ignore them. Allow Xbox's emerging dominance in the multiscreen and more-connected-than-ever living room to offset the PC decline and imminent tablet failure Ballmer chooses to ignore.

    At the time of publication, Rocco Pendola was long FB.

    Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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