Short Takes: January 31, 2014

Short Takes: January 31, 2014

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this week's other news ...

Microsoft CEO Rumor of the Week: Satya Nadella

Looks like Microsoft's CEO search has turned inward, if this week's rumor is true: According to a report that originated with Bloomberg, Microsoft is "close" to naming its enterprise and cloud chief, Satya Nadella, as its next CEO. But the news—sorry, rumor—is even juicier than that: Apparently, Microsoft's current chairman, cofounder Bill Gates, will step down from the board of directors and be replaced by board member John Thompson, the guy is who leading the CEO search. Nadella's rise to the top of the list came after several high-profile external candidates, most notably Ford CEO Alan Mulally, removed themselves from contention. But the important news, I think, is that making Nadella CEO would allow Microsoft to move forward with its current devices and services strategy unchanged, given that he has successfully led a similar evolution within his own business from traditional on-premises servers to online services. Actually, the other important news is that this isn't news; it's a rumor. And as The Wall Street Journal notes in its own report, "The board hasn't made a final decision about Mr. Nadella, or about Mr. Gates's role ... the directors are scheduled to meet next week, and could name a new CEO after that." So let's not jump the gun just yet. Related: "Microsoft's Next CEO Will Emerge Shortly"

Lose the PlayStation 3, Save $100 on Xbox One

I'm eagerly awaiting the first "Microsoft is clearly desperate" story from the guileless video game blogosphere, but a new Xbox One promotion actually makes sense to me: Microsoft is offering $100 off an Xbox One purchase through its Microsoft Store if the customer turns in a Sony PlayStation 3 at the time of purchase. And yes, that is a good deal: A like-new PlayStation 3 is worth less than that from places like Amazon Trade-in. Plus, it gets yet another Sony product off the streets, which is better for everyone. But the trade-in offer isn't just for the console; Microsoft is also offering trade-in value of $10 to $20 for various PlayStation 3 controllers and accessories in games. Come on, guys. It's time to trade up.

How Big Was Lenovo's Week? $5.2 Billion Big!

Lenovo surprised everyone in the tech industry by purchasing Google's Motorola Mobility handset business for $2.91 billion on Wednesday, but that wasn't Lenovo's only big purchase in the past week: On the previous Thursday, the firm announced that it was buying IBM's entry-level server business for $2.3 billion. So why the sudden buying spree? The timing, of course, is most coincidental, but the underlying theory here is sound regardless: As the world's largest PC maker, Lenovo is the biggest fish in a once-important market that is shrinking. So like any other PC maker, it needs to expand into complementary computing markets, which include tablets, smartphones and, yes, small servers. Lenovo already makes tablets, and that business seems to be proceeding nicely. And though it does make smartphones, that business has been moving slowly (it just introduced its first LTE model this very month) and has been mostly limited to China. So, really, no surprise, given that buying into these markets is quicker than starting from scratch. Other than the weird back-to-back nature of the purchases, of course.

So What Does the Sale of Motorola Mobility Say about Microsoft's Purchase of Nokia?

A lot of closet analysts are claiming that Microsoft planned to purchase Nokia so that it could be just like Google and offer its own handset hardware while also licensing the OS software to other hardware makers. Thus, since Google found that its own handset business was a money pit, so too will Microsoft, and thus Microsoft's purchase of Nokia makes no sense at all. And those claims are all completely wrong. Microsoft is buying Nokia because it has to, plain and simple. And though the firms will claim that this purchase makes sense because it makes Windows Phone stronger or is complementary to Microsoft's Surface strategy, yada yada yada, that is just a justification, not a reason. Nokia hasn't been able to turn a profit on its handset business since well before moving to Windows Phone, and moving to Windows Phone hasn't helped. So the firm was looking. Looking at Android. Looking at selling. Looking at a way out. And any way out for Nokia (and for its Lumia line of Windows Phone handsets) would have harmed Windows Phone irreparably. So Microsoft had no choice but to buy the Nokia handset business. There simply wasn't any other option.

I'm Just Excited to Hear That Someone Is Still Using Yahoo! Mail

Yahoo! reported this week that malicious users infiltrated a third-party website and attempted to gain access to the usernames and passwords for some unexplained number of Yahoo! Mail accounts. "We identified a coordinated effort to gain unauthorized access to Yahoo! Mail accounts," a Yahoo! blog post explains. "Based on our current findings, the list of usernames and passwords that were used to execute the attack was likely collected from a third-party database compromise." Although the firm declined to tell how many accounts were impacted, those that were have had their passwords reset and Yahoo! added a two-step verification requirement. I'd take the third step and find a more modern cloud-based email, contacts, and calendar solution, one that works across all modern mobile devices. You know, something like Cough.

Amazon Set to Raise the Price of Prime

The Amazon Prime subscription service is currently one of the biggest benefits of using Amazon, and it offers free two-day shipping on most of the products sold by the e-tailor for just $79 per year in the United States. (The service also adds some interesting side benefits, like access to a Netflix-like video service called Prime Instant Video and a Kindle ebook lending library.) But with fuel costs jacking up the cost of shipping, Amazon is starting to take a bigger and bigger loss on Prime, and the firm might be forced to raise prices. Amazon made this admission in an announcement about its holiday sales quarter, when it warned that it could actually post a loss in the current quarter. So it might increase the price of Prime by $20 to $40 to help make up for the rising cost of fuel. Honestly, Prime is an incredible value, and if Amazon simply adjusted the price each year to account for fuel costs, that would be pretty reasonable.

But Wait, There's More

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and the Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. And check out my free ebooks, Paul Thurrott's Windows Phone 8, Paul Thurrott's Xbox Music, and the currently in-progress "Windows 8.1 Book," which I'm now writing—and publishing as we go—with Rafael Rivera.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.