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J. Allard in costume after losing a bet in which he said that the Sony PSP wouldn't pass 10 million units sold  (Source: Zune Online)

Robbie Bach
J. Allard leaving Microsoft after 19 years on the job

We reported earlier today that some shakeups were on the way from Microsoft with regards to its Entertainment & Devices Division. It had already been widely speculated that J. Allard, chief experience officer and chief technology officer, was leaving. It was also reported that Robbie Bach could also be shown the door.

TechFlash now reports that both Allard and Bach are leaving Microsoft. According to TechFlash's Todd Bishop, the departure of Allard and Bach will give CEO Steve Ballmer more direct control over Microsoft's struggling sectors (namely its Zune and Windows Mobile units).

Although there has been speculation that Allard might jump ship to Google and work on that company's tablet efforts, he refuted those claims and said that he wants to unwind for a bit and tackle “personal interests” after working at Microsoft for 19 years.

For his part, Ballmer stated the following in a company email announcing the departures:

Transitions are always hard. Robbie has been an instrumental part of so many key moments in Microsoft history — from the evolution of Office to the decision to create the first Xbox to pushing the company hard in entertainment overall. J as well has had a great impact in the market and on our culture, providing leadership in design, and in creating a passionate and involved Xbox community, and earlier being at the center of our work seizing the importance of the Web for the company...

Both have been great team builders with a strong record of attracting, coaching and growing talent. As a result, their teams are primed to continue to step up and deliver great products, great services and great results for the company.

You can read Ballmer's full email to the troops here.



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RE: zune BLAH
By robinthakur on 5/26/2010 11:53:22 AM , Rating: 2
Its not very confusing. Its the difference between marketing an IT device to an IT enthusiasts niche (Zune, Courier), and a consumer device to members of the public. Apple steps through each feature and explains it, making it sound useful, not just leaving it as a bullet point up for contention. With a feature it's not particularly important whether its revolutionary or who came up with it, if nobody knows about it, it won't really sell these days.

Microsoft seem to cling to this idea that if a device is good it will sell through word of mouth only or through some kind of Halo effect of people wanting a device which integrates with their operating system, whereas most non techies are oblivious to this. It also doesn't work if people don't have a positive experience with their gateway products, namely Windows and Office.

Similarly Apple markets itself very well to the public, and they do it simply. Not spending millions to get Jerry Seinfeld in a bafflingly obscure viral advert which then gets hastily dropped. Even if you are not a consumer of their products you likely are aware of what's going on or that the ipad launches in UK tomorrow etc. Like it or not in the tablet market, the iPad is now the driving force just as the iPhone is the phone to beat in the mobile space (perceptually anyway...have you ever read a review of a competing phone that says categorically "this phone beats the iPhone in every respect" because I certainly haven't)

In closing, companies emulate Apple because they are very successful in both design, execution and marketing, see iPad vs Slate vs Courier, iPod vs everything else, iPhone vs everything else. Note that Android might well be leading at the moment, but where on earth would it and its interface be (along with all the wannabe copycat UI's) without the iPhone? Apple also achieves something by its high degree of brand loyalty, which infers that people actually had a positive experience using the devices, despite all the snide comments about them being style over substance. For some reason, their success causes many people in the tech industry to throw their toys out of the pram...probably because for all the bells and whistles you can pack in a device, it matters not if the device doesn't sell (e.g. the Courier-a nice POC but probably prohibitively expensive with a limited market and ironically, a limited OS [limited due to it being 2 tiny touch screens] which would have sucked up R&D resources and shat them down the drain).


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