My Forbes quote?

September 13, 2005

Well, it looks like even with the conversation I had with their fact checker, Forbes has decided to print a quote from me anyways. It’s in their article titled “Microsoft’s Midlife Crisis” which came out today.

Here’s what they quoted me on:

“Windows and Office would never let MSN have more budget or more control,” says Mark Jen, who quit Microsoft eight months ago. “MSN e-mail should talk to Office Calendar contacts and share appointments from Office with friends and family on the Web. But then MSN could cannibalize Office.”

Huh… that’s interesting. I honestly don’t recall if I said it or not, but either way, it seems out of context.

First, I obviously never had any access to budget numbers for the Windows, Office, and MSN divisions at Microsoft. Secondly, I’m not sure MSN would cannibalize Office; it’s more the case that they should work “better together”.

The one point I do believe – one which isn’t reflected very accurately in that quote – is that MSN should be taking center stage at Microsoft and the strategy should be shifting towards how to delight online users (while of course continuing to provide a good OS and productivity suite). As part of that, I think Windows and Office should work with MSN to create a more integrated solution for users.

This forms the basis behind my Win32 API for MSN post. Which, by the way, looks like Microsoft has indeed started looking into with their MSN API announcements this week. I hope they’ve only just started and the 4 or 5 APIs they’ve released this week are only a few of tens or hundreds of services they plan on opening up.

I don’t think their quote of me is a big deal, so whatevers, but the article definitely has a doomsday spin and I don’t agree with. Last time I checked, MSN was actually in the black and XBox is in a pretty good position (going from 0% market share to #2 in the console business, getting their next gen console out ahead of Sony). So basically, Windows, Office, Server Business & Tools, and MSN are making money; XBox is in really good shape. Plus $12 billion coming into the bank every year doesn’t sound too bad to me 🙂

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No Responses Yet to “My Forbes quote?”

  1. rose Says:

    good save.

    any chance you’ll be doing some work today, mr jen?

  2. terry chay Says:

    Since much of the revenue comes from ads, I am lax to say MSN is officially in the black. For years, Westinghouse required that all divisions reserve a small fraction of their revenue for R&D. They would then go to Westinghouse R&D and propose projects for it to work on. I guess by a similar actuarial madness that puts MSN “in the black”, Westinghouse R&D could have been considered “in the black” before it was restructured into Science & Technology.

    Before the XBox launched, Microsoft Games was profitable. Microsoft Home and Entertainment has not been profitable since. Their smaller losses in the last two quarters are probably a function of Halo 2. The fact remains that the Xbox will reach the end of line and the console was a loss leader for the entire run. To me, that is a win for Sony. After all, how many companies out there can report two successive quarters of $100 million+ losses and remain in business, let alone call this “being in good shape” because they didn’t bleed a billion dollars a year?

    I don’t disagree with you that Microsoft is in good shape. I’d just qualify your statement to: “Windows Client, Information Work, Business Solutions, and Servers and Tools are making money, and the other three are not bleeding significantly.” That’s not bad diversity for the tech industry: Apple only recently has added a second profitable product category (iPod), Oracle pretty much makes money off of variations of a single product (database) and Google’s revenue is tied to a single thing (ads).

    The issue Microsoft is facing is that for some reason they are having an increasingly harder time maintaining their monopoly. It is easy to overlook the fact that Palm is still alive in spite of its incompetence and numerous name product iterations on Microsoft’s part (WinCE, HandheldPC, Pocket PC, Windows Mobile, Windows SmartPhone). Windows CE is going to be eclipsed by Linux in the embedded market if it doesn’t do something about it. UltimateTV was a failure. The XBox only tops the Game Cube in the U.S. NGSCB is now in it’s third name iteration (TCP -> Palladium -> NGCSCB) and no closer to acceptance. And what ever happened to the infamous Microsoft SPOT?

    This is not to say that Microsoft is “under siege” or in danger. It just means that its growth strategies into new markets are not as effective as they have been in the past. Besides, Even Apple was profitable and had record margins in during its fall in the mid 90’s. Microsoft is many times larger and it will take a much larger mistake over a longer time before it is affected.

    (I also agree that MSN could ever cannibalize Office. Remote scripted web applications may get good, but not *that* good.)


  3. Forbes article on Microsoft drive me nuts

    I saw on my friend Mark’s blog that he had been… uh… quoted? misquoted? unquoted? in a Forbes article on Microsoft’s midlife crisis. Lately Mark has had a few entries critical of tech journalism. Amen. The sad part is that Mark is only looking at…

  4. Allen Says:

    I know how you feel. I was quoted in the NYTimes for an article on browsing the web on mobile devices. I talked to the reporter for 30 minutes explaining the history, progression, and path of mobile browsing, how cell phones work, and why things haven’t become more popular.

    When the article finally ran, I was quoted as saying, “The experience is much like text browsing in the early days of the Internet.”

    I don’t even remember saying that, and even if I did, it wasn’t a point of the conversation. Reporters take what they need to fit their story.

  5. Jason Says:

    I would like to point out that I noticed this first. 🙂 And secondly, having written a few articles myself I can see how they would want to prove the angle that they have decided to use. Though it’s weird how you never said what they quoted you as saying. Maybe they can print a retraction if they are in the wrong?


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