First, I hope you are reading this from home and not as one of the poor saps that has to come in and work over the holidays. You know, years ago, I was in Internal Audit and we had to help close off the year; vacations (well, even weekends) were few and far between. Working 12-hour days and 6.5-day weeks at the time, I recall the warm and friendly Christmas note that came from our CEO during the holidays. It said something to the effect that we’d better not be screwing around because keeping the lights and heat on just for us was really expensive. It gave us all a warm and friendly desire to tell him to please enjoy our working papers as an antibiotic anal cleanse.
Old memories aside, let’s look back at 2015, an interesting year.
Windows 10 and a New Microsoft
Second only to the new Star Wars movie was the final release of Windows 10 and what is hoped to be the end of the very uneven Windows release cycle, where we were cycling from good to awful OS releases and their related problems. While the choirs and angels didn’t literally sing, for a lot of folks still suffering with Windows 8, it was very close. This OS seemed to aggressively address what annoyed us the most about Windows 8. In fact, Windows 8 was so badly received that Windows 9 ran off to Mexico and has never been seen since.
Apple Forgets the Mouse
Apple’s two most memorable accomplishments are the GUI, or graphical user interface, and the mouse, both of which it literally stole from Xerox PARC. If there were two things you’d think it would never forget, it would be the need for both. Yet this year, Apple brought out the iPad Pro, a laptop-replacing tablet that didn’t have the current version of the mouse replacement, the touchpad. Yes, the very thing that Apple executes brilliantly on its non-touch laptops was missing on its tablet laptop replacement. Word from unreliable sources is that it is “shacking up” with Windows 9 in Mexico.
Dell and EMC Get Married
Joe Tucci had been publicly regretting his business breakup with Michael Dell for some time and after apparently meeting Meg Whitman to see if they could tie the knot between HP and EMC, got so spooked he ran back to Dell. Now the two firms are planning to get married, well, merge anyway. Given that Michael Dell had been outspoken against big mergers, it kind of makes you wonder how bad that Whitman meeting was, as that appears to have been the primary driver to Dell and EMC’s new-found relationship.
As Dell and EMC are getting together, HP decided to take a hard look at the problems that IBM had when it spun out the PC business. It apparently decided it wanted some of that so spun out PCs and Printers, leaving the new CEO of that unit a Christmas present of all the firm’s debt. This clearly points out that if there is anyone you don’t want giving you a Christmas present in 2016, it would be Meg Whitman. Massive debt is truly the gift that keeps on giving, and not in anything approaching a good way.
BlackBerry Plays Microsoft
One of the interesting lessons of last century was the Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish strategy that Microsoft used successfully against Lotus and then promptly forgot. After leaving Microsoft, Steve Ballmer seemed to get the brilliant idea to bring it back and put Android apps on Windows. BlackBerry, in the best example of precognition, actually did this before Ballmer went public with the BlackBerry PRIV, which has actually sold out as one of the most sought-after phones this quarter. Makes you wonder what other great strategies are regularly ignored.
The Art of Picking a Bad CEO
Speaking of good strategies that folks forgot, as both HP and Yahoo struggled, many of us thought back over the CEOs that HP had. Let’s see, Carly Fiorina failed, Mark Hurd succeeded (but had serious problems), Leo Apotheker failed, and then we have Meg Whitman. The lesson was that if you pick someone who is an experienced CEO from the same industry (and maybe is a bit more discreet with their personal life), you get a win. If you don’t, you don’t. And gosh, with that lesson, we continued to see CEOs who weren’t qualified fail because boards figured, heck, it is just so much more fun having folks try to fire you, only to find out that firing a board is really, really difficult.
Wrapping Up: Hard Lessons Learned
2015 was an amazing year. We saw a ton of lessons that I’m sure a whole lot of folks successfully enjoyed not learning. In fact, folks so aggressively refused to learn that they actually forced out of their heads the things that had taken decades to learn. As the weather gets cooler here in Bend, Oregon, I’m thinking that maybe I’ll drop down south for a visit with Windows 9 and the Apple mouse, as I hear they are getting along famously, telling Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer stories.
Here is hoping 2015 was very good to you!
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+