The Steve Ballmer era at Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is coming to an end.
Shares of the software giant opened nearly 9% higher on Friday after Ballmer announced that he would be stepping down within the next few months after a suitable replacement is found.
It’s never flattering for any departing CEO to see a stock move higher on news like this. The implication is that Ballmer held Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) back. However, investors cheering the potential upside of what a new set of eyes can bring to the plodding tech bellwether are missing the point.
Ballmer wasn’t the sandbag. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is the sandbag.
The days of Mr. Softy as the software powerhouse are done, and that’s something that even the company itself seems to be conceding. There are three references in the brief press release describing Ballmer’s decision to make the “transformation” of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) into a “devices and services” company.
The days of fat margins pushing Windows operating system upgrades to desktop users are toast. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)‘s Android is the future. Bulls will rightfully argue that Microsoft makes money off of Android through patent licensing deals, but it will never be as much as it used to make when it was the one calling the shots.
The migration won’t be easy, but it will be necessary. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has thrown billions at mobile, yet it still commands only about 4% of the smartphone and tablet markets. There’s little that a new CEO can do to change that.
Yes, the new CEO will have one of the bigger war chests at his disposal, but Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has even more money and even the class act of Cupertino has struggled to keep pace with Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG).
How is a new CEO going to restore Microsoft to its former glory? Is it going to hop into a tricked out DeLorean and go back in time?
Microsoft had a great run, but the days of a closed operating system dominating a thriving market are over. This is a problem for both Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft, but it’s more glaring for Ballmer’s company since it used to be on top of the world.
A new CEO can’t change the evolving marketplace. A new voice at the helm can’t halt the movement.