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Q1 2013 likely left Microsoft's Ballmer sweaty and frustrated.  (Source: YouTube)
Some divisions profit, but Microsoft faces uncertainty as it races ahead to Windows/Windows Phone 8

Earnings week for the tech industry has brought a lot of bad news, with a few pleasant surprises (like Intel Corp. (INTC)).  Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFTearnings definitely fall into the "bad news" category.

Microsoft, which operates two fiscal quarters ahead of the calendar quarter, saw itself narrowly miss analyst targets in both revenue and net income (profit).  The company pulled in $4.47B USD (expected: $4.72B USD) in profit on revenue of $16.008 USD (expected: $16.416B USD).

A key to the miss was plunging revenue from the Windows unit, which saw a big drop in Windows 7 sales.  Microsoft better hope that predictions of Windows 7 being the "next Windows XP" aren't true, because it's counting on Windows 8 to revive sales, with movement of the once-sterling Windows 7 slowing to a sluggish pace.

Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer at Microsoft, roared at his critics, commenting in the earnings release, "The launch of Windows 8 is the beginning of a new era at Microsoft.  Investments we’ve made over a number of years are now coming together to create a future of exceptional devices and services, with tremendous opportunity for our customers, developers, and partners."

Windows 8 Upgarde
Microsoft is currently selling Windows 8 upgrades via pre-order.

Microsoft did defer $1.36B USD (as it typically does) in pre-order revenue from its Windows Upgrade Offer program.  Windows 8 official launches next Friday on Oct. 26.

One bright spot in the earnings report was Microsoft's servers unit, which saw an 8 percent bump on revenue, mainly on big growth in SQL Server and System Center.  And in the also-somewhat-good news category, Bing and the online service division crept a bit closer to no longer being massive money losers, with revenue 9%, driven by a 15% increase in revenue per-click.  That's particularly good as the dominant force in the search market, Google Inc. (GOOG), saw a large decrease in revenue per-click after traffic acquisition costs (TAC).

The Entertainment and Devices division earnings were a revenue draw (down 1 percent).  It is currently focused on reviving Microsoft's smartphone bid with Windows Phone 8, which launches next week.  It also was able to brag that the Xbox 360 remains sales king of the American consoles market, with a 49 percent estimated market share.  The Xbox 360's successor, which some are expecting to be named the Xbox 720, is not expected to land until sometime in late 2013 or early 2014.
HTC Windows Phone 8X
Windows Phone 8 launches next week. [Images: Nokia (left), HTC (right)]

Microsoft remains one of the best earning and most successfully diversified hardware/software giants in the consumer electronics industry.  However, it continues to be defined by the burden of high expectations, speculation, and intense scrutiny surroundings its "misses".

Shares of Microsoft were hammered in morning trading, down almost 3 percent to $28.70 USD/share.

Sources: Microsoft, FT [analyst estimates]



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RE: Poor PR and marketing
By Mint on 10/19/2012 2:31:31 PM , Rating: 2
I think Microsoft's biggest marketing failing is avoiding how to show users that the UI is better/faster 90% of the time even if you never touch any Win8 apps. Obviously this shouldn't be a national TV ad, as MS wants the Win8 market to succeed, but some web videos with side by side comparisons would quell a lot of the criticism.

If they advertised the quick access menu, the better task manager, how launching programs takes equal or fewer clicks with a customized start page, and that the whole notion of "leaving the desktop" is entirely psychological, I'm pretty sure these hardcore users wouldn't be so riled up.


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