The New York Times editorial board took some time for a little old-fashioned Microsoft-bashing this weekend. The paper thinks that our local software giant is on its way to becoming the new Kodak: a former business and technology icon made all but obsolete by more agile companies with better innovations.
It's a familiar tune and an easy-to-come-to conclusion, given Microsoft's failures on the tablet/smart-phone/stock-price front.
But the piece fails to note a few major areas that make Microsoft still very far from a Kodak-like collapse.
The impetus of the NYT's editorial is the recent call by hedge-fund king David Einhorn for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to step down.
The Times cites the tech company's flatlined stock price and the rise of Google and Apple as dominant gadget-makers and innovators as reason that someday soon, people will ask "Remember Microsoft?"
Eastman Kodak, the fifth-biggest company in the S.& P. 500 in 1975, was almost destroyed by digital cameras and is no longer in the index. General Motors, fifth biggest in 1985, was hobbled by rivals that could make more fuel efficient cars. Microsoft still rules the PC desktop. But that will matter less and less as users migrate to tablets and more computing takes place in "the cloud."
There is another lesson in Microsoft's long slide. It is about how far corporate behemoths will go to stop technology that threatens their dominance. Ten years ago, Microsoft tried to use its virtual monopoly of the operating system to strangle potential rivals and their new technologies. Fortunately, it failed. But the new rising behemoths will likely try similar tactics on whatever new gizmo challenges them.
Kodak is a convenient boogeyman to suddenly find under Microsoft's bed, but considering that Microsoft posted $5.23 billion in net profit last quarter (up 31 percent from the previous year) and is hiring thousands of workers, it's still a little premature to go calling the company an industrial has-been.