BARELY weeks after a senior management shake-up at Apple, Microsoft has had its own shake-up — and it couldn’t have come at a worse time for a company that has just launched new products that are supposed to change its face and give it an edge over its technology rivals, Apple and Google.
Unlike at Apple, where Scott Forstall was ousted as senior vice-president of iOS software, the sacking (that’s not what Microsoft is calling it, but that’s what it certainly seems to be) of Steven Sinofsky as president of Microsoft’s Windows division came completely out of the blue. Up until the moment the news emerged, Sinofsky was still being referred to by industry insiders as CEO Stave Ballmer’s likely successor. Now the "next CEO of Microsoft" no longer even works at the company.
Also unlike at Apple, where Forstall’s replacement, Jony Ive, is well respected inside and outside the company and worked closely with Apple’s late co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, Sinofsky’s replacement, Julie Larson-Green, is more of an unknown quantity.
Microsoft recently launched its newest operating system, Windows 8; its first tablet computer, the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT; and Windows Phone 8 to very mixed reviews. All of them were Sinofsky’s babies. Still to come is another version of the Surface that will use Windows 8 as its operating system. The Surface and Windows Phone 8 are crucial to helping Microsoft win back lost ground in the mobile computing arena from Apple and Google, which dominate with their iOS and Android mobile operating systems respectively.
The only way this situation could possibly end well for Microsoft in the light of Sinofsky’s departure would be if he was ousted to make way for Apple’s Forstall. Stranger things have happened.
Apple, meanwhile, has problems of its own. The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch website reported yesterday that Samsung Electronics has raised the price of mobile processors it supplies to Apple by 20%.
According to the report, Apple bought 130-million units from Samsung last year, expects to buy more than 200-million this year and was unable to resist the price rise because it couldn’t find an alternative supplier. That’s considerable payback for Apple’s vigorous global pursuit of Samsung in the courts for copying the designs and patents of its iPhone and iPad. What it wins in the courts, it will pay back in the market.
GOPRO, the company that makes a range of small, mountable high-definition video and still cameras that are popular with extreme athletes, has upped its game with the release of the HD Hero3.
I’ve written about its predecessor, the HD Hero2, in this column, and how much fun it is to use, even if you’re not involved in extreme sports.
The new version is even smaller and comes in three editions (white, silver and black, for $199, $299 and $399, respectively), each with slightly different capabilities. But the most exciting, for me, is the fact that it has built-in Wi-Fi, so users no longer require the Wi-Fi BacPac accessory to control their GoPro cameras from afar, which is done using the GoPro remote or a free smartphone app.
I’m still using the HD Hero2, for the moment, so I’m stuck with the BacPac, but being able to control these cameras remotely with the recently released smartphone app and BacPac has opened up a whole new world of bird (you can mount the GoPro on a bird feeder, for example), wildlife and time-lapse photography for me.
That HD Hero3 is definitely on my Christmas wish list.