Worries That Microsoft Is Growing Too Tricky to Manage

10. September 2013

Date: 09-09-2013
Source: The New York Times

Microsoft MissionSEATTLE — At a time when many people in business believe the number of products at Microsoft should be getting smaller, it is about to become a lot bigger.

Microsoft’s $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s handset and services operations, when the deal closes early next year, will increase the company’s head count by 30 percent and add a big, new hardware unit to a dizzying variety of businesses — an unusual situation in an industry where focus is often prized more than breadth.

It’s a concern to everyone from academics to Microsoft alumni. A list of missed opportunities and disappointing investments at the company in the past decade in areas like smartphones, tablets and Internet search have led to the belief that a more focused, nimble collection of mini-Microsofts could respond more effectively to the never-ending flow of disruptive technologies nibbling at its foundations.

“It is very hard to be a broad-based tech conglomerate,” said David Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School.

Thirteen years ago, Microsoft’s competitors and a federal judge demanded that Microsoft be split up because of its market power. But trying to do too much rather than wielding too much power is the issue now. Read the rest of this entry »