Microsoft PR head Frank Shaw has been all over Twitter today trying to convince the Twittersphere that Microsoft’s not dead as a consumer company.
He’s responding to a CNN article entitled “Microsoft’s Consumer Brand is Dying.” In a series of about a dozen tweets, Shaw has rightly pointed out that a lot of the 240 million Windows 7 licenses sold in the last year went to consumers, points out that Bing is innovating and gaining market share, and notes that Halo Reach (which broke all-time one-day sales records last month) and the upcoming Kinect motion-controlled accessory for Xbox 360 sure feel like consumer products.
All true, but he’s not really addressing the points in the article. Despite being early to markets like smartphones, portable media players, and tablets, Microsoft has a negligible presence there today. Internet Explorer has been on a steady market share decline. And while consumers may not hate Windows 7, I’d bet that most of them are buying a new PC that happens to come with that OS…not buying the OS that happens to come on a new PC.
This looks like a bit of air cover for Microsoft’s quarterly earnings report tomorrow. Goldman Sachs analyst Sarah Friar recently called for Microsoft to spin off its consumer-focused Entertainment and Devices (E&D) group.
That’s not about to happen–E&D includes Microsoft’s mobile phone business, which is critical for the company’s future–but analysts are going to be studying the numbers there very closely tomorrow. They’ll also be looking to see if the struggling Online division, which incorporates Bing, is finally bringing costs under control or is still on track to lose more than $2 billion this year.