Steve Ballmers CES Performance Proves He Needs to Go: 10 Reasons Why

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Steve Ballmers CES Performance Proves He Needs to Go: 10 Reasons Why

by Don Reisinger

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CES Is Enough

Steve Ballmer needed to show the world at CES that he knew what Microsoft needs to do to overcome the adversity it's facing across several markets. He didn't do anything of the sort. Instead, he practically ignored a key growth sector-tablets-and spent too much time trying to convince people that Windows Phone 7 will steal significant mobile OS market share. Considering how many features it's lacking, most notably full multitasking, it's hard to see how Ballmer can be right about that.

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Where Are All the Tablets?

Everyone expected Ballmer to show off tablets at CES this year just as he did last year with several devices. But that didn't happen. Instead, his colleagues mostly discussed notebooks and only a few tablets. The relative absence of tablets at Ballmer's keynote should make just about everyone wonder if Microsoft will even have a noticeable presence in that key market this year. If it doesn't, there's no reason to keep Ballmer around.

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He Still Believes In Windows Phone 7

As mentioned, Ballmer talked up Windows Phone 7 quite a bit at CES. He also reported that the company's mobile app marketplace now has 5,000 apps. Considering Apple's store has over 300,000 programs and the Android Market has around 200,000 apps, it probably wasn't the best figure to mention. Moreover, Ballmer did little to allay fears that the company's previous sales announcement of 1.5 million Windows Phone 7 devices shipped in its first six weeks of availability was an anomaly. Apple sells millions of iPhones every quarter. Google is seeing hundreds of thousands of Android devices activated each day. And yet, Ballmer couldn't find a single Windows Phone 7-related stat that would put Microsoft on anywhere near a level playing field. That's not good.

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Windows Shouldnt Save His Job

It's as if Steve Ballmer is still CEO of Microsoft because of Windows 7. The latest operating system from the software giant is the fastest-selling version of the program yet. Microsoft's board of directors must think that those sales are a solid barometer of Ballmer's performance. But it isn't. Windows 7 is selling so well because Vista was a failure. And the board must look beyond Windows to truly determine if Ballmer is right for the job. If they do that, they'll find that he isn't.

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Office Shouldnt Save His Job

If Windows shouldn't save Ballmer's job, neither should Office. The company's productivity suite is running on all cylinders after all these years, and it's a cash cow for Microsoft. But it's also the only worthwhile option in the marketplace. By the looks of things, Ballmer isn't integral to Office's success. Realizing that, and considering Microsoft's other options, Office shouldn't be saving his job.

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No Progress on the Google Front

Microsoft is having trouble competing with Google both online and in the mobile market. Online, Google Search and its advertising platform still dominate Microsoft's alternatives. The search giant's mobile operating system is easily eclipsing Windows Phone 7. Yet, Ballmer didn't say anything about how Microsoft plans to compete with Google in 2011 during his CES keynote. And his silence is causing some to wonder if he has a solution to the Google problem.

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The Stock Isnt Attractive

One of the key factors in the value of a CEO is his or her ability to maximize shareholder value. At least when it comes to Microsoft's stock, Ballmer isn't achieving that goal. Over the past five years, Microsoft's stock has hovered at around $30 per share. It hasn't gone up all that much, and in 2009, it was down below $20 per share for a while. Since then, the share price has leveled, and once again, Microsoft can't find its way over the $30 threshold. And it's a key reason why Ballmer needs to go.

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Financials Dont Tell the Whole Story

Aside from Microsoft's stock price, it's important to look at the company's financial performance. At least when it comes to that, Microsoft continues to perform quite well, generating billions of dollars of profit every quarter. But the vast majority of those profits come from Windows and Office-two platforms that don't require Ballmer's oversight to be so successful. From a financial perspective, Microsoft is a winner. But it doesn't have Ballmer to thank for that.

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Where Is the Innovation?

The Consumer Electronics Show is supposed to be a place where companies can show off innovative new ideas that they came up with over the past year. In 2011, several companies delivered on that. But Microsoft didn't. It showed off Windows, talked about new Windows-based PCs and tried to make Windows Phone 7 relevant. Ballmer and Company didn't deliver anything groundbreaking. And that should make some wonder if it has anything innovative up its sleeve to help propel its business. If it doesn't, Ballmer needs to go.

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Ballmer Is Obviously a Software Guy

Microsoft started out as a software company, and it has been extremely successful in that market. But it's not solely a software company anymore. Not only does it continue to sell PC peripherals, but it's also in the hardware market with the Xbox 360 and Zune. Simply put, it's expanding outside of its comfort areas. But Ballmer has shown time and time again that he's a software guy. Even at CES, he spent most of the time discussing the future of Microsoft's software offerings. Meanwhile, his competition, most notably Apple, continues to perform quite well across several markets, including hardware and software. Simply put, the technology industry is changing. And Ballmer doesn't seem to realize that.

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