NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's time to cease speculation over why Steve Sinofsky left Microsoft ( MSFT).It's even time to lay off jabs at Steve Ballmer and his company's less than desirable Surface tablet. Unless Sinofsky's exit was step one in a Bill Gates' master plan nobody knows about, Ballmer's not going anywhere, even if shareholders raise hell. With the stock unable to hold $30 when it had the chance on a slight whiff of Windows 8 euphoria, MSFT shareholders have a choice of three positions: Get out, be happy with an increasing dividend yield on a dying stock or put your faith in Ballmer. Loyalty vis-a-vis an investment is a dumb concept. Given the obstacles Microsoft faces, faith will not be rewarded.
PC Confusion and Tablet AdoptionBarclays, via Forbes, anticipates PC sales and demand to swoon precipitously "for years to come." The firm has legitimate answers for the lame defenses PC and MSFT bulls use to make a case. It's all so reminiscent of what happened last year with Research in Motion ( RIMM). The same thing is happening right now with Intel ( INTC). Just like RIM bulls defended with The enterprise won't leave RIM because of security line, MSFT ardents speak of "replacement cycles" and emerging markets growth. Barclays squashes that nonsense with reasonable offshoots of smartphone and tablet -- particularly iPhone and iPad -- PC cannibalization. Businesses will move more slowly to replace PC accoutrements because they're diverting resources to mobile initiatives. They're also embracing tablets (in lieu of PCs) at a rapid pace. And, in emerging markets, consumers will adopt smartphones and tablets earlier in the cycle than Americans did causing them to fall far short of the 100% penetration per person in the U.S.
Retail PresenceMicrosoft should be embarrassed by its retail presence. I'm not sure how Steve Ballmer can show his face in public after knocking off Apple's ( AAPL) design and failing miserably in the process. Relatively speaking, Microsoft stores are a waste of space. According to RetailSales, Apple ranks number one among over 200 chains across 15 sectors with sales of $6,050 per square foot. That's double No. 2 Tiffany & Co. ( TIF) ($3,017) and way ahead of a gaggle of strong others, including Lululemon ( LULU) (No. 3 at $1,936) and Coach ( COH) (No. 4 at $1,871).
These companies all have something Microsoft and its partners do not have -- unique retail experiences driven by atmosphere, exclusive and premium products, exceptional customer service or some powerful mix of one or more of the above. These points link together to tell a story of abuse: We're living through a vicious cycle where enablers help losers lose and losers help enablers enable. And nobody has the guts, the will or the capacity to make a true break from the pack like Apple did when Steve Jobs came back as CEO. Microsoft steps out with new products. It even builds one of its own. Intel meanders, supporting the "ultrabook" cause with money -- and more importantly -- attention that should be focused squarely on mobile technology. Partners such as Dell ( DELL) and Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) continue to suck the last few drops of gravy out of the train, while setting themselves up for failure in spaces dominated by behemoths such as IBM ( IBM). There's hardly a peep of innovation or risk-taking at companies holding themselves hostage to the PC space and other sectors' scraps. That spells to continued dominance, even for a slightly-weakened, Tim Cook-navigated Apple. At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL. Follow @rocco_thestreet