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Opening Arguments

Woe is them

Microsoft shares went down 5 percent with the revelation that it had to take an unexpected $500 million charge for its inventory of unsold Surface tablets:

The massive charge underlines the struggles of the world's largest software company, which last week announced a deep reorganisation to transform itself into a "devices and services" leader, but is struggling to make mobile devices as attractive as those from Apple or Samsung.

Guess they should just quietly slink back the the software business, but, really, that market's getting soft, too. There are so many things online that are free or downloadable that's it not worth the effort to actually buy the stuff anymore. I have a brand-new copy of Photoshop at home that I haven't even loaded. I use an editing program on the Web -- there are dozens of them out there.

In the meantime, Goggle's profits are down, and once again it's the fault of those pesky mobile devices that are vexing Microsoft:

Googlereported lower-than-expected second-quarter revenue, reigniting concerns about the impact of mobile devices on online advertising prices and the Web giant’s push into lower-margin businesses.

[. . .]

Search-ad prices have been declining since the fourth quarter of 2011. Analysts attribute the drop to the fact that prices for showing ads on sites that are accessed via mobile devices have long been lower than prices for ads viewed on PCs.

Google executives have said repeatedly they don’t think mobile devices would hurt Google’s business in the long term.

Yeh, well, good luck with that. Despite the near ubiquitiousness of smart phones, I still hear prople cautioning against getting too caught up in this darn mobile-device fad, as if we're talking about this year's CB radio. Sorry, folks, this is a revolution that's not going to come unwound.

Microsoft and Google seem to be suffering from the IBM Sydrome -- a company that gets too big and starts worrying about the bottom line and has trouble heading off new-blood competition with innovative ideas. Warms my heart and helps me stop feeling sorry for myself because of the death spiral of newspapers.