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Microsoft chief software architect Ozzie leaves; Apple breaks sales records

Microsoft just can't catch a break some days. On the afternoon it announced the departure of one of its most senior executives -- Ray Ozzie, who replaced Bill Gates himself as its chief software architect -- Apple announced yet another quarter of record-breaking earnings and sales.

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Ozzie's farewell echoed the earlier exits by key executives Robbie Bach and J. Allard: There's a bit of mystery to each departure. An e-mail from chief executive Steve Ballmer to Microsoft employees (initially posted to its Web site with a strange "Thursday, October 18, 2010" date) leaves a fair amount to the imagination.

In that message, Ballmer writes that Ozzie brought enough change to Microsoft, switching its focus to Internet-based "cloud" services -- and so, to read between the lines just a little, now's as good a time as any for him to move on.

With our progress in services and the cloud now full speed ahead in all aspects of our business, Ray and I are announcing today Ray's intention to step down from his role as chief software architect.

But did Ozzie make that much of a dent in Microsoft's universe? Read his 2005 "The Internet Services Disruption" e-mail, credited by Ballmer as his most influential writing, and tell me how much of today's company matches the vision sketched out in that message.

(Back in 2005, I didn't see why Ozzie joining Microsoft merited all the attention it got. But I've also had the displeasure of using Ozzie's best-known work, the abomination of an e-mail program known as Lotus Notes; "created and led the development of Lotus Notes" has never struck me as a good career credential.)

Early reactions to Ozzie's departure have been a little skeptical. Tech blogger Om Malik wrote that "Microsoft has tried to adapt, but hasn't really changed. Perhaps that's why Ozzie thought it was time for him to make his exit."

Meanwhile, Apple smashed another set of records when it announced its financial results for its fourth fiscal quarter of 2010:

The Company posted record revenue of $20.34 billion and net quarterly profit of $4.31 billion, or $4.64 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $12.21 billion and net quarterly profit of $2.53 billion, or $2.77 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter.

It sold 3.89 million Macs (despite an aging laptop lineup) and 14.1 million iPhones (so much for "antennagate" slowing sales), both records. It also sold 4.19 million iPads; only iPods saw sales decline, slowing to a mere 9.05 million in the quarter.

In a subsequent Q&A, chief executive Steve Jobs added that the company sold 250,000 units of the relaunched, $99 Apple TV.

(As a reminder, I don't and can't invest in companies I cover; if you put some money in Apple stock 10 years ago, please don't brag here.)

Note that even in this crummy economy, Apple managed to blow away its past sales while preserving most of its profit margins -- 36.9 percent for the quarter, not down much from the year-ago figure of 41.8 percent. I'm sure that Microsoft could use that kind of marketing acumen.

By Rob Pegoraro  | October 18, 2010; 7:23 PM ET
Categories:  Computers, Mac, Windows  | Tags:  Rob Pegoraro  
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Comments

Been playing with my AppleTV for a week now. Didn't find the onscreen keyboard too difficult, as it wraps around. Love the downloading from iTunes. Immediate start and good HD. 720p is Good Enough.

Downsides: It doesn't preserve the 'filesystem' view the way the iPod does. that is, if I have a folder of playlists the folder is flattened out, putting all playlists at the same level. Except that the folder is still there. If you have many playlists, as I do, it's very annoying. Slows navigation down pretty badly.

The other playlist problem: I have a playlist of favorite web radio stations, and it isn't brought over to the device. Since the web radio interface is the same as with iTunes, it makes web radio unplayable on the AppleTV.

Posted by: wiredog | October 19, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

But wDog

Was your purchase worth the $99?

Posted by: ummhuh1 | October 19, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Emperor Ray Ozzie has been running around unclothed for a long time. Or maybe Ballmer fired him because he was jealous of Ozzie’s hair.

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | October 19, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

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