Why Steve Ballmer Got Fired in Two Photos

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 9 2013 8:53 AM

These Two Photos Show What a Disaster Microsoft Is Today

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It's like a PS4 except it costs $100 more.

Photo by Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images for Microsoft

Steve Ballmer is chief executive officer of Microsoft. He's been in the job for some time, but he recently announced that he's stepping down. The fact that Ballmer's departure was announced without the simultaneous announcement of a successor is a good indication he was pushed out the door by the board of directors. And these photos taken Sunday around noon at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City in Arlington, Va., show why.

Here's the Microsoft Store:

MicrosoftStore2

Photo by Matthew Yglesias

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This is not a trick of the camera. There were zero shoppers in the store. At noon. On a Sunday in December at peak retail shopping season.

And here's the Apple Store:

AppleStore2

Photo by Matthew Yglesias

It is crowded.

Of course Microsoft operated for many years as a fantastic company without any retail stores at all, so it's not as if the failure to build successful stores is the problem per se. The real issue is that there's nothing wrong with the store. It's a great place to shop. Much better than the Apple Store, really, because the Apple Store is crowded, and it's a little hard to get an employee's attention. At the Microsoft Store you get a very pleasant physical environment and a helpful staff. It's just that nobody wants to buy their stuff.

It's still a very profitable company thanks to its enormous strengths in the enterprise market. But enterprises are made of people. If nobody wants to buy Microsoft's stuff, that will trickle up into the enterprise.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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