As much as an obscenely profitable company that produces millionaires the way other operations pump out widgets can act like a cornered animal, Microsoft is that animal. Amateur crystal ball-gazers (including yours truly) have spent the past months predicting dark clouds in the tech company's future. So last Friday, Microsoft bared its fangs and roared back at critics.
In a post published on its official blog, Microsoft's Vice President of Corporate Communications Frank X. Shaw wrote that though he's "generally most comfortable with words," he couldn't help but preen on the occasion of the sale of the 150 millionth copy of Microsoft's updated operating system.
"But since Microsoft is a pretty numbers-driven company," he continued, "the Windows 7 milestone got me thinking about some *other* numbers, too."
Shaw then produced a dozen triptychs of impressive stats meant to display Microsoft's digital primacy. Focusing especially on Apple and Google, the two competitors who've made the most substantial swipes for the tech king's crown.
Apple Net income for fiscal year ending Sep 2009. [source]
Google Net income for fiscal year ending Dec 2009. [source]
Microsoft Net Income for fiscal year ending June 2009. [source]
Shaw surely meant for his post to prove that he and Microsoft can still roar when provoked. But he also exposed his employer's most vulnerable haunches.
The argument has never been that Microsoft can't make money. Thanks to Windows and Office, it practically prints it.
The argument has always been that Microsoft doesn't innovate. That it's been milking the same cash cows for a decade while trying, and failing, to clone successors.
That's partly why Microsoft's stock hasn't budged in the 10 years since Steve Ballmer became CEO. That's partly why Apple recently overtook Microsoft as the biggest tech company in the world, at least where Wall Street is concerned. And that's partly why, though Shaw would have you believe otherwise, no one is much excited about Microsoft's forays into the most important emerging market (smartphones) given its dismal recent history.
Shaw certainly proved that Microsoft still has claws. But he didn't do much to answer those critics who wonder aloud how long the kitty can keep 'em sharp.