New Microsoft CEO makes his first public appearance - dressed as Steve Jobs.
"Telling" is probably the word to describe Mr. Nadella's choice of clothing for his first public appearance as bossman - and indeed, for all I know he might actually have been wearing Boss. What I do know is that, consciously or unconsciously, he looked to be distancing himself from barmier Ballmer days in terms of look, style and strategy. After all, imitation has long been described as the sincerest form of flattery.
So, dressed trendily in open-necked black polo shirt, black leather belt, black jeans, black-rimmed glasses, black wristwatch and sporting a 'to-the-bone' buzzcut, Satya Nadella portrayed himself from his shoes and socks up to be the new man in complete charge of the lumbering behemoth that Microsoft has become. And this time it's going to be different. Starting with striped shirts, pogo sticks and all the effing and jeffing - and so forwards from there.
And what, you might ask, is the big change - apart from the sartorial nod to a corpse? Well... basically the new CEO actually acknowledges the existence of Apple and the iPad and of Google and Microsoft will now move to make Office software compatible with Apple tablets. In other words there are alternatives to Microsoft hardware and Windows software! Be calm my racing heart.
Better late than never some may reckon while others are asking why it took so long to admit that Microsoft isn't the sun and not everything in the firmament revolves around it.
Nadella obviously understands that, under Ballmer, the Apple denier par excellence, ad infinitum and ad nauseam, Microsoft had become far too reliant on 'traditional' Windows software. It is said that Steve Ballmer actually vetoed the introduction of Office for the iPad (despite the fact that the product existed and was ready to launch) in favour of milking every last drop out of Microsoft Office until the very last minute.
Satya Nadella officially buried that strategy yesterday when he announced "What motivates us is the realities of our customers." Cripes, Lawks and Strewth! Who'd have thought it?
Hence Mr. Nadella's "Mobile first, Cloud first" initiative which, essentially, means that in future Microsoft software will be available to run on a myriad of devices - whether those devices run Windows or not. Hush, hush, what is that strange chomping sound? Could it be Mr. Ballmer chewing the carpet?
The hope is, of course, that Office for iPad will generate massive new sales for Microsoft. It is estimated that Office was worth US$25 billion in sales last year and by extending its utility to iPad tablets that figure could be increased by 10 per cent or more.
Satya Nadella added that over the next month or so Microsoft will add flesh to the bare bones of its new "Mobile First – Cloud First" strategy, starting with next week's 'Build' developers symposium and extending on hrough later data management conferences and exhibitions. He did not say that Microsoft's much-vaunted rival to the iPad, the poorly-received and poorly-selling Surface tablet will be central to the new strategy, but he'll have to do something about it. Neil Shah of Counterpoint research commented, "Office on iPad will generate more revenues for Microsoft than all the Surface sales for at least the next two years." Says it all really.
The point is that Microsoft has been spending big on the Surface and on the acquisition of Nokia as part of an expensive effort to be more like Apple (and Google) without ever admitting that Apple (or Google) is (if you'll forgive the very tortured but very deliberate mixed metaphor). the Schrödinger's catlike elephant in the Microsoft boardroom, the executive suite and the R&D labs. If you see what I mean. (I know, I know, but give me a break, it's been a hard week).
Microsoft needs to decide on a strategy and then execute it without, hesitation, repetition and/or deviation. Well, they do say there is a first time for everything - and this might be it. Let's remember that Steve Ballmer once 'pretended' to stamp an iPhone to death on stage. At least that kind of crass stupidity now seems to be a thing of the past.
Mr. Nadella's announcement was well-received and Microsoft's share price rose briefly above the $40 mark for the first time in 14 years. Microsoft stock lost a third of its value during Tigger's time so the upsurge is welcome but it remains moot as to whether, as Schrödinger's cat might speculate, it is actually possible to have two first places in a race that isn't predicated on quantum dynamics. Isn't it possible that "Mobile First, Cloud First " could actually turn out to be "Cloud First, Mobile Second" (or vice versa)?. Otherwise isn't it simply a dead heat on a merry-go-round? The one with Schrödinger's cat on it, off it, on it, off it, on it....