As anyone who reads Dilbert or who has picked up one of cartoonist Scott Adams’s books knows, Adams is something of an eccentric genius.
He knows technology, having been a computer programmer, and he knows business, as an economics major and a successful business owner. He’s also a candidate for President of the United States of America, believe it or not.
(I did say eccentric genius.)
So when he skewers a tech company, he skewers a tech company. Here’s today’s strip — it shouldn’t take you long to figure out who this one is targeting:
Adams raises two questions: Is no-one buying Microsoft’s Surface tablets? And is Microsoft on a long slide toward irrelevance?
First, on Surface sales …
Microsoft certainly thinks it’s going to sell a decent number of tablets, since the company is putting its money where its mouth is and building three million units this year. Three million may not sound like a lot in a tablet market that already has 100 million iPads, but Apple only sold three million in its first quarter of sales, and that was in a market with very little competition.
Surface tablets have drawn some reasonable crowds, with some even getting as giddy as new iDevice owners, and reports of solid if not spectacular sales. And yes, Oprah has endorsed Surface, calling it a “wowser.” With some positive and some negative reviews — OK, more negative than positive — at least people are talking about it.
Realistically, we don’t know what Surface sales will be until Microsoft announces some more details. But it seems likely that the company is going to have decent sales at least, and further iterations of the product — that is, after all, a Redmond specialty — will improve.
So no, it’s not true that no one will buy it.
Second, on the future of Microsoft
In the long term, every company dies. That’s life .. . or business, rather.
And Microsoft will never again be the one dominant force in the market that it was in the 1990s and early 2000s. The market has moved beyond that, and there are too many players in at too many levels. It’s not all about operating systems anymore, and it’s not a binary model: PC vs Mac, or rather, Microsoft vs. everyone else.
That’s a big stretch. And I get that a cartoonist is looking for a metaphorical truth, not a literal truth. But it’s hard for a company with a $250 billion market cap to be irrelevant. Especially when that company still holds dominant positions in desktop operating system, home gaming systems, and office productivity software, not to mention its large array of enterprise products.
Microsoft may very well have some pointy-haired bosses. Most companies do. But Steve Ballmer, you may have noticed, is bald.
Check out VentureBeat's product data sheets for more in-depth information on tablets.