Philip Elmer-DeWitt: Ben Thompson: What if Steve Ballmer ran Apple?:
Skip Kara Swisher's gossipy piece about how it happened faster than Microsoft let on and go straight to Ben Thompson's If Steve Ballmer ran Apple on his stratechery blog…. Thompson--a former Microsoft Windows product manager--imagines what Apple's new CEO would do over the next five years, starting with the rollout of the iPhone 5C…. Thompson's punchline--which gets to the heart of the difference between Microsoft and Apple (AAPL)--is that if Ballmer ran Apple, the company would never again ship a disruptive new product.
Part of this he attributes to the innovator's dilemma--Clay Christensen's idea that a company focused on maximizing profits can't pursue a successful new product because of its impact on existing profit margins. Part of it is the kind of people who are attracted to and stay with a company like that. But if Apple's success has proved anything, Thompson suggests, it's that measurables like profits and incentive bonuses aren't the half of it. "Things like design can't be measured," he writes, "nor can user experience. How do you price delight, or discount annoyance?"… "Ballmer's good qualities, especially when it came to maximizing revenue and profits, were also his worst qualities, especially as the consumer market came to dominate computing. And, to Microsoft's short-term benefit but long-term detriment, the incentives Microsoft gave its employees to achieve Ballmer's aims choked out the sensitivity to truly understand what's next."