Ben Brooks in Microsoft’s iOS Apps has an interesting thought about Microsoft's future. He's right that this won't happen with Ballmer as CEO. But there are even bigger issues.
Any revenue from iOS apps is just a rounding error on their (Microsoft's) balance sheets, so this is not disruptive to their core business (Windows and Office) in any way. What MS needs is a new revenue stream that has the potential to rival what they make from Office and Windows. I agree that – long-term – the Windows and Office businesses will continue to stagnate, but even stagnant Windows and Office will remain cash cows for a long time. How long? No one really knows, but apps are not the solution.
Like Apple's AppleTV, you can think of MS apps as a hobby.
If we go by a favorite saying of the tech web, that Office is far more important to Microsoft than Windows, would it not make sense then that 10 years from now Microsoft is just a really good “app” company?
That is, instead of making platforms (like Windows) they are just producing applications that run on the best platforms out there — regardless of who controls these platforms?
With Ballmer this won’t happen, but with fresh eyes this seems to be a pretty interesting strategy for a company that is struggling to get a foothold in the ever important mobile industry.
Of course this minimizes the sheer size of Windows itself, but then again I have to wonder just how important the traditional PC will be to the average consumer in a decade’s time.