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IT Analyst Declares Microsoft's Consumer Play 'Over'

If the prediction comes true and Microsoft scales back its consumer play outside gaming, it may ultimately be a good thing for channel partners.

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Speaking at his Strategic News Service Predictions Dinner in New York last night, Anderson outlined his forecasts for 2010. And the big one that caught everyone's attention was that Microsoft will lose in the consumer market. Outside the company's gaming presence, which includes the Xbox console and PC gaming, Anderson said "it is game over" for Microsoft in the consumer space.

As a result, Anderson added, the consumer market will be "the place to be, where the most robust and exciting change artists will work." Speaking with The New York Times following the event, Anderson called Microsoft "a loser in phones" and said that the software company doesn't have "consumer DNA."

There's certainly plenty of evidence to support Anderson's prediction. While smartphones have exploded, Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform has become virtually obsolete with declining market share and competitive platforms, including Google's Android and Samsung's Bada, stealing Microsoft's thunder. For devices, the Zune appears to be barely hanging on in the wake of Apple's juggernaut iPod.

On the other hand, Microsoft has enjoyed surprising success with its gaming business. The company has seen improved sales with its second-generation console, the Xbox 360, mostly because Microsoft revamped its strategy for embracing third-party developers and providing them with a sound platform and development tools. In addition, Microsoft's popular Xbox Live service has a number of improvements, which shows that there's at least some consumer DNA within Microsoft.

But other products like Microsoft Surface and MSN TV haven't caught on with the public or generated the kind of excitement needed for momentum in the consumer market. Bing, Microsoft's answer to Google's search engine, might be the lone exception, having created a stir in the search engine market. But even with its headline grabbing, Bing has a long way to go to dethrone Google.

If Microsoft falls in line with Anderson's prediction and begins to scale back its consumer play outside gaming, it may ultimately be a good thing for Microsoft channel partners. Microsoft shifting its attention away from mobile devices, for example, and toward its Azure cloud computing platform would no doubt be a welcomed change for solution providers.

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