Financial Pulse: Ballmer’s Retirement And The Continued March To The Post PC Era

Post PC ERA Adaptive PlanningSteve Ballmer’s upcoming retirement comes at an interesting time for Microsoft.  When the late Steve Jobs first proclaimed the, “Post-PC” area in middle of 2010, Windows still had about 60 percent of the market share, from Global Computing Platform perspective.

Today, just three years later, that share has collapsed to about 20 percent and the Post-PC area is in full effect.  People are increasingly using mobile devices for work and entertainment. Computing has moved beyond the PC, and the lion’s share has been consumed by Android, the mobile operating system from the ultimate Cloud company, Google.

Global Computing Platform Market Share

The chart above shows Windows, in yellow, with a firm hold on the Global Cloud Platform Market Share, as recently as mid-2010.

But what this speaks to is something more profound. Computing has shifted to the Cloud.  As John Gage, an early employee at Sun Microsystems proclaimed back in the 80’s, “The network is the computer.” That phrase later became the company’s tagline.

Now, that network is eating Personal Computing.  Computing is taking place on platforms like Amazon Web Services, Google’s own servers, and other Cloud data centers. The operating itself is less relevant. The browser is king, the network is the computer, and the scale is amazing.

Just last year, Huang Liu, Ph.D. and Research Manager with Accenture Technology Lab, analyzed EC2’s infrastructure and found that Amazon EC2 is currently made up of 454,400 servers quietly running apps in the Cloud. These aren’t virtualized servers. They’re Linux racks. And the devices accessing them? Mostly mobile, non-Windows devices based on the chart above.

This shift has been developing since the inception of the browser. More recently, a quick comparison of the stock performance of Salesforce.com – a bellwether for the adoption of the Cloud within business, versus Microsoft over the last ten years – tells the story. I know which one I’d rather have invested $100 in back in 2004.

MSFT vs CPM Adaptive Planning Growth

The chart above shows the growth, in red, of CPM users since May, 2007.

The Cloud means ubiquity and ease of access, and no headaches while running your applications.

So the pendulum has swung. The client-server model that propelled Microsoft in the 90’s to the Cloud is now propelling companies like Amazon, Salesforce, Google, NetSuite, and cloud CPM providers like Adaptive Planning. At Adaptive, we regularly speak with business leaders who have been struggling with tools like Hyperion, SAP BPC, and Cognos TM1, which all sit on expensive-to-run, care-and-feed servers. And we ask the question: Why?

If you continue to run on-premise, you’re swimming against the tide. The shift is accelerating. Cloud Computing is accelerating. The Nexus of Forces is in effect – cloud, mobile, and more. And perhaps all of this is one small reason that Steve Ballmer’s retirement comes now.

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