Steve Ballmer has called it a day, with the CEO of Microsoft announcing that he plans to retire within 12 months. Ballmer has been in the position since 2000, succeeding Bill Gates, but only gained full control of the company when Gates decided to leave his day-to-day operations in 2009.
“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said in a statement. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”
Under Ballmer, the company shifted away from focusing just on the PC market into new areas of revenue: from its cloud and online services such as Azure and Skydrive, to games and entertainment with the Xbox brand. That said, the large chunk of Microsoft’s revenue still comes from Windows and Office.
However, in recent years under Ballmer, Microsoft’s fortunes have changed. The PC market is slowing down, affecting sales of Windows 8 – its most ambitious operating system given the radical redesign. As well, Windows 8 tablets, like its own Surface, aren’t selling like the iPad and Android tablets (like the Nexus 7).
As well, Ballmer’s Microsoft has been criticised for being slow to respond to new technologies. Memorable moments include Ballmer’s response to the iPhone when it was launched in 2007, saying that the phone won’t appeal to business users.
“$500… that is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard, which makes it not a good email machine,” Ballmer told a reporter.
Turns out, business customers love the iPhone.
Ballmer is to remain CEO until the Board of Directors have found his replacement.