Lisa Rapaport, reporting for Bloomberg:
Microsoft Corp. has hired Mark Penn as corporate vice president for strategic and special projects, reporting to Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer as the company readies new offerings for the tablet-computer market.
Penn, 58, was the worldwide CEO of the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and CEO of the polling firm Penn Schoen Berland LLC, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said in a statement today. Penn will focus on key consumer initiatives, Microsoft said.
A pollster. I think this bodes terribly for Microsoft. Polling works for electoral politics because everything is short-term. Elections really only heat up a few months in advance. (Penn was highly influential in the Clinton administration.)
“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that
to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new. It
took us three years to build the NeXT computer. If we’d given
customers what they said they wanted, we’d have built a computer
they’d have been happy with a year after we spoke to them — not
something they’d want now.”
The message I take away from this hiring is that Steve Ballmer doesn’t know what to do, and he’s hoping polling will give him the answers. That’s how you wind up skating to where the puck was, not where it’s going to be.
★ Thursday, 19 July 2012