The shy and retiring Microsoft CEO Steve “I suffer for my art” Ballmer tuned up his fiddle, stood on the loftiest tower of the palace of Redmond, and as flames from its latest results licked around the base, composed a poem entitled “My favourite bathtime gurgles.”
Ballmer watchers reported that he was “delighted by the beauty of the conflagration”, and was clad in tragic costume as the results were released.
Peter Klein, Microsoft’s chief financial officer, was left to brief the media while his boss sang the blues.
Actually, the results were not that bad and were fairly predictable, but other than a contribution to the corpus of literary allusions, they cannot have helped Microsoft much.
The fiscal second-quarter profit fell very slightly as lagging computer sales to cash-strapped consumers in the United States and Europe hurt its core Windows business.
Klein said there was a slide as consumers put off buying a PC.
He said that many things were causing that. There were the effects on the supply chain from Thailand, there’s some macro-economic factors, competition from alternative form factors such as tablets and e-readers, and especially dogs eating homework.
Microsoft claims that the PC market fell between two percent and four percent in the quarter, almost entirely due to the collapse in the market for netbooks.
The Windows unit reported a six percent dip in sales to $4.7 billion. The situation shows no immediate signs of getting better.
Overall, Microsoft reported net profits of $6.624 billion compared with $6.634 billion, at the same time last year.
Sales rose five percent to $20.9 billion, in line with analysts’ forecasts, thanks to improved Office, server software and Xbox businesses.
Skype also helped and brought the Vole a one-time gain of $225 million thanks to favourable foreign currency rates.