No one needs to be told that mobile devices are the future of computing — smartphones, tablets, wearables — least of all Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.
He’ll be the first one to tell you that Microsoft is focused on a “mobile-first, cloud-first world.”
So how will Nadella get some game in that world, which looks to be all but won by Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android?
He’s got a different definition of “mobility.” It’s not about the operating system on the device you use, but about the fact that you will be using a lot of them:
“And when I say mobile-first, cloud-first, it’s actually not the mobility of the device, it’s the mobility of the human experience across devices. And the way that happens is because the cloud orchestrates it,” he told CNBC’s Jon Fortt.
Nadella calls these people “dual users” and he’s focused on making them fall in love with Microsoft’s software, if not the actual devices that run that software.
That means he’s not concentrating on trying to get people to buy Windows devices anymore, although he clearly still wants that. (He just digested Microsoft’s massive $US7 billion acquisition of Nokia to guarantee that a top-tier manufacturer would still be making its phones.)
He will instead focus on luring businesses and consumers to Microsoft cloud software, making it available on any device.
More than that, though, he wants to get developers and businesses to use Microsoft’s cloud to host their software.
And Microsoft is extremely well positioned to do that. It already has data centres in 19 countries, one of only a handful of companies with such a big cloud (others include Amazon, IBM, and Google).
And Nadella knows this cloud intimately. He rose up to the CEO job by building it.
And things are going well. Microsoft’s cloud is already a $US4.5 billion business, he says. That is, of course, only a fraction of the company’s $US70 billion in revenue.
But to put that in context, one of the most successful pure cloud companies, 15-year-old Salesforce.com, expects to hit $US4 billion in revenue in 2014.
And this is perhaps, the ultimate irony. Because making the operating system irrelevant was Google’s mission when it launched its attack on Microsoft all those years ago with Google Apps, Chrome, and ChromeOS.
Seems like Microsoft might have a new motto these days. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Here’s a part of the CNBC interview: