Bungled mobile bet will be Ballmer's swan song

Windows 8 and Surface could send Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer packing by this time next year

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As for Intel, the chipmaker's revenue was $13.5 billion during the third quarter, dropping from the $14.2 billion in the same quarter last year; profits were off sharply as well. AMD is doing much worse and now says it will cut its workforce of nearly 12,000 by 15 percent, its second round of layoffs in less than a year as it struggles with a weak global economy and a consumer shift toward tablets.

The chipmaker forecast a drop in fourth-quarter revenue that is worse than Wall Street expected, and AMD CEO Rory Read said he does not expect the PC industry to improve for "several" quarters. That may be optimistic -- and Wall Street is running out of patience. Look at what's happened to the share prices of these old-guard PC-focused companies and you'll see exactly what I mean.

Bye-bye, Ballmer?
First it was the netbook, then it was the Ultrabook. Microsoft, Intel, and the PC makers keep looking for a way to convince buyers they don't need an iPad or Android tablet. Neither initiative gained much traction, so Microsoft bet big on Windows 8 and the Surface.

InfoWorld and I have been dumping on Windows 8 so much I'm not going to repeat the arguments. Maybe we're wrong, and buyers will decide that the new OS and the Microsoft's first serious venture into hardware are what they want. It would be a huge boost for the industry if it happens, but I'm not optimistic.

Most recently, Microsoft reported $4.47 billion in net income for its first fiscal quarter of 2013, a 22 percent decline from the same period a year earlier, while revenue was off 8 percent. But the really telling number was in the Windows Division, with revenue of $3.24 billion, down a frightening 33 percent from the same period last year.

Something has to change. There's been a string of bad quarters, and the stock has been frozen for nine years. At some point -- I think we're getting really close -- investors are going to demand a shakeup. When they do, it's going to be good-bye, Ballmer.

I welcome your comments, tips, and suggestions. Post them here (Add a comment) so that all our readers can share them, or reach me at bill@billsnyder.biz. Follow me on Twitter at BSnyderSF.

This article, "Bungled mobile bet will be Ballmer's swan song," was originally published by InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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