Is it really "game over" for Microsoft's consumer business?

An influential writer says it's "Game Over" for Microsoft in the consumer market. Is there time for Microsoft to turn things around?
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive

The New York Times has given some online love to Mark Anderson, the influential writer of the Strategic News Service, who this week said that Microsoft is "not a place that gets consumers." That's a pretty bold statement, considering that Windows has mad market share for consumer-based PCs and Xbox gets plenty of respect from that young online gaming crowd. (Techmeme, Mary Jo Foley, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes)

But, regardless of whether Anderson is on the money about this one or not, his comments are definitely worth pondering - not only in Redmond but on Main Street and Wall Street, too He presented his thoughts at a New York shindig at the Waldorf-Atoria last night and the Times' Steve Lohr made note of one of Anderson's observations. At the event, Anderson said:

Except for gaming, it is ‘game over’ for Microsoft in the consumer market. It’s time to declare Microsoft a loser in phones. Just get out of Dodge... Phones are consumer items, and Microsoft doesn’t have consumer DNA.

It's no secret that I'm no fan of Microsoft. I lean toward Google for productivity apps, I own several Mac (and one Win7) computers and I never once considered a Windows Mobile phone for my personal/corporate use. My son has had an Xbox for years and rumor is that Santa may be bringing him an Xbox 360 for Christmas. That's about it for our love for Microsoft products.

The point about smartphones is pretty big, though. The lineup is getting crowded and with iPhone, Google's Android and even Palm's WebOS getting a lot of attention for what they're doing in designs and app integration, Microsoft is left among the "and others" in the smartphone game. Anderson could be exactly on target with his predictions if Microsoft doesn't pull off a complete 180 to what it's doing in mobile right now.

Mobile is the future of computing. At some point, I see mobile devices becoming our primary computers, carried around on our hips just as they are today but then wirelessly connecting to a larger keyboard and touch-screen monitor for bigger jobs, such as typing reports and creating presentations. If my phone eventually becomes my home and work computer, why do I need an actual laptop or desktop computer running Windows?

I'm not saying that's going to happen overnight. And I'm certainly not going to join Anderson on his limb by also saying that it's "game over" for Microsoft in the consumer market. But unless Microsoft makes some pretty bold changes - instead of just trying to modernize an outdated OS with a few tweaks and a couple of new features - it could find itself exactly in the position that Anderson predicts: watching the game from the sidelines bench.

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