First Microsoft went after Apple with the laptop hunter ads that jabbed Apple for expensive laptops. Now it’s going after iPod. In this latest ad, “The Apprentice” contestant and financial planner Wes Moss claims that it would cost $30,000 to fill an iPod with music, but only $14.99 a month for the Zune’s subscription service. More…More
TechCrunch has the latest search traffic stats for the first quarter that show Microsoft losing 1.1 percent over the same period last year. New York Times says Yahoo may be planning more layoffs. Mary-Jo Foley at ZDNet is speculating on plans for a Zune phone, code named Pink, to compete with iPhone.More
A nugget from the BBC’s blanket coverage of the G20 summit and President Obama’s first visit to the U.K.: “The BBC’s Peter Hunt says: President Obama has given the Queen an Ipod during their private meeting at Buckingham Palace. It contains footage of her state visit to the US in May 2007. The Queen has…More
With Microsoft’s Redmond campus largely emptied out for the winter holidays, CEO Steve Ballmer crunched the numbers on the proper level of spending for his company against the current economic climate, which he has repeatedly referred to as a “reset” rather than just a recession. Ballmer said his own estimates for the weakness and duration of the downturn tend to be more severe than those of other business leaders he meets.
With that in mind, he settled on $27.5 billion of operating expenses — a level the company aims to hold relatively steady through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and during its 2010 fiscal year. Ballmer made clear to financial analysts meeting in New York this morning for the company’s annual strategic update that cutting back even more significantly — say to $20 billion — would be “imprudent.”
“I think this is right,” Ballmer said.
That should give some comfort to those wondering if the modest layoffs Microsoft announced last month were the beginning of a more significant reduction. Wall Street analysts and investors are pressuring companies in every industry to continue cutting costs as sales and profits slow dramatically.
The strategic update call just came to an end. Ballmer gave a detailed look at seven major business areas for the company. Check back here later this morning for more details.
Update, 7:50 a.m.: As he told Congressional Democrats earlier this month, Ballmer said Microsoft’s corporate strategists have been evaluating past downturns — particularly those driven by “deleveraging.” The team read company annual reports from 1927 to 1938 to determine who did a good job managing through the Great Depression. “RCA, God rest them in peace, became our role model,” Ballmer said. The company was able to dominate the television business because it continued to invest during bad times, he said.
Then he broke down how Microsoft plans to invest.More
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Students visiting Microsoft for the company’s Minority Student Day pressed Robbie Bach, president of the company’s Entertainment and Devices Division, to talk about the future of some of his division’s most recognizable products. In this post, I covered what he said about the next two generations of Windows Mobile. [Update, Feb. 23: I’ve added the name of the student who asked the question highlighted in this post.]
Zune, Microsoft’s music player, was another hot topic. This morning, CNET reported on changes in the organization of the Zune team.
One student, Marian Abdullahi of Kent-Meridian High School, asked, “I was wondering if you plan on making a touch-screen Zune?”
Bach: “Ah, a question about whether we’re going to make a touch-screen Zune. I won’t talk about future product things that we’re doing explicitly, cause that will get me in trouble with a lot of people.More
CNET’s Ina Fried reports that on Jan. 22, Microsoft split its Zune digital music team in two: one focused on the software and services, which it plans to expand onto other, non-Microsoft devices, and another focused on the Zune hardware.
[Update, 12:34 p.m.: Added comments from Robbie Bach, head of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, on the rationale for the change.]More
LAS VEGAS — Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, talked about layoffs (“you won’t hear us comment”), the great 2008 for Xbox and its impact on profitability, Microsoft’s deal with Verizon Wireless (creating a good mobile search experience is the key), where entertainment fits in Microsoft’s mobile strategy and more. Read on for a condensed transcript of my conversation with him Wednesday afternoon.More
Comments on this post at the official Zune Insider blog indicate that the 30-gigabyte Zunes that failed on Dec. 31 have come back to life today. One person wrote: “Woke up this morning, plugged in my Zune, waited 5-6 minutes to get a charge. It booted, all my content is there, I watched a…More
[Update, Thursday 8:33 a.m.: It appears the fix worked. Details here.] Microsoft just issued the following statement explaining the outage that has affected thousands of Zune music players today: “Early this morning we were alerted by our customers that there was a widespread issue affecting our 2006 model Zune 30GB devices (a large number of…More
[Update, Thursday 8:33 a.m.: It appears the fix worked. Details here.]
[Update, Wednesday 2:05 p.m.: Microsoft just announced the problem was likely caused by a bug in the internal clock related to leap year. See this post for more details.]
Reports are streaming in from around the Web of Microsoft’s 30 gigabyte Zune media players failing all at once. Here’s one man’s description, consistent with thousands of others posted on a Zune forum and in comments to blogs:
“I turned on my Zune a few hours ago, and the start-up screen appeared. The progress bar went across the bottom, and stopped at 100%
“And it just sits there.”
The Zune team is issuing the following statement:
“We are aware that customers with the Zune 30GB are experiencing issues with their Zune device. We are actively working now to isolate the issue and develop a solution to address it. We will keep customers informed on next steps via the support page on zune.net (zune.net/support).”
Clearly, this is not the kind of consumer electronics news story Microsoft wanted to see one week before its chief executive and entertainment and devices president take the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Update, 10:45 a.m.: Matt Rosoff, a digital music expert and analyst with Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, checked his 30 gig Zune this morning and confirmed, “I’ve got that pink and black screen of death.” Rosoff has a theory about what’s gone wrong.More