Microsoft loses another top boss - and Apple takes a hit on iPad

Microsoft's making a habit of losing senior managers. Still, at least it hasn't seen Apple disappear further into the distance...

by James Taylor
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
Another top manager is on the way out at Microsoft - this time it's Ray Ozzie, the man who took over as chief software architect from Bill Gates and is credited with spearheading the company's push into the Cloud. He's one of several senior managers to leave the tech giant lately, and he was single-handedly responsible for pushing the share price down 2% last night. Microsoft could take some consolation from the fact that rival Apple's shares plunged even further, dropping 6% after iPad sales came in below forecasts. But with the latter notching up its first $20bn quarter, we suspect that of the two Steves, Jobs will be happier than Ballmer this morning...

Ozzie's the third Microsoft senior manager in the last few months to announce an unexpected departure, following Stephen Elop (who eloped to Nokia), and devices chief Robbie Bach (whose destination remains unknown). The man behind Lotus Notes, Ozzie joined Microsoft as CTO back in 2005 when it bought his company Groove Networks, being bumped up to software chief when Gates retired. Since he's widely regarded as being instrumental in pushing Microsoft away from desktop computing and into the Cloud, via Windows Azure, it's not surprising that investors are fretting about what his departure means. Does it signal a change in strategy for Microsoft? Or a change in pace for the existing one? Ballmer didn't give many clues in his email to staff - but the fact he's not planning to replace Ozzie does create a degree of uncertainty.

Apple also saw its shares take a hit last night - though since it followed a record quarter, we can only assume that either investors are a particularly churlish bunch, or that a few wanted to lock in profits by selling their shares. Admittedly it wasn't all good news yesterday: Apple 'only' sold 4.2m iPads, fewer than the 5m some analysts were predicting. On the other hand, the problem appears to be one of supply, not demand - and that's much easier to fix. What's more, iPhones are still selling like hot cakes - 14.1m of them last quarter, to be precise, a 91% jump. This helped Apple's quarterly earnings soar 70% to $4.3bn, on revenues of $20.3bn.

So good were the results, in fact, that Jobs even deigned to show up on the earnings call - whereupon he proceeded to berate Google over its Android software (on the grounds that its 'open' model actually makes life harder for developers), and those manufacturers about to bring out 7-inch tablet PCs (which he said would be too small and 'dead on arrival'). So Apple clearly hasn't lost its competitive instincts - and with Jobs hinting that it might use its whopping $50bn war-chest for a big acquisition, it's pumped up for the fight. Microsoft's Ballmer would love to have problems like these.

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