Analyzing one of American corporate history’s greatest mysteries — the lost decade of Microsoft — two-time George Polk Award winner (and Vanity Fair’s newest contributing editor) Kurt Eichenwald traces the “astonishingly foolish management decisions” at the company that “could serve as a business-school case study on the pitfalls of success.”

Relying on dozens of interviews and internal corporate records—including e-mails between executives at the company’s highest ranks—Eichenwald offers an unprecedented view of life inside Microsoft during the reign of its current chief executive, Steve Ballmer, in the August issue.

Today, a single Apple product—the iPhone—generates more revenue than all of Microsoft’s wares combined.

Read full scathing article, including a bit about Microsoft’s irrational, self-defeating, clinging lust for mechanical keyboards, via Vanity Fair – very highly recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Excerpts from a BusinessWeek interview with Steve Jobs, October 12, 2004:

Steve Jobs: Apple had a monopoly on the graphical user interface for almost 10 years. That’s a long time. And how are monopolies lost? Think about it. Some very good product people invent some very good products, and the company achieves a monopoly. But after that, the product people aren’t the ones that drive the company forward anymore. It’s the marketing guys or the ones who expand the business into Latin America or whatever. Because what’s the point of focusing on making the product even better when the only company you can take business from is yourself? So a different group of people start to move up. And who usually ends up running the show? The sales guy… Then one day, the monopoly expires for whatever reason. But by then the best product people have left, or they’re no longer listened to. And so the company goes through this tumultuous time, and it either survives or it doesn’t.

BusinessWeek: Is this common in the industry?
Steve Jobs: Look at Microsoft — who’s running Microsoft?

BusinessWeek: Steve Ballmer.
Steve Jobs: Right, the sales guy. Case closed.

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