June 5, 2013
Microsoft CEO Heads To Hollywood Amid Changes In Focus And Leadership
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Steve Ballmer is no Steve Jobs. He made this much clear during a developers conference several years back when he broke into a clap chant of “developers, developers, developers” as he sweated profusely. Yet the Microsoft CEO is reported to be taking a page from the Jobs playbook by visiting with entertainment executives personally to sell them on his newest product, the Xbox One.
According to Deadline Hollywood, Ballmer and members of his staff visited several entertainment studios and met with the bosses of CBS, Sony and WME to persuade them to provide exclusive content for the new gaming/video console. According to one source who spoke with Deadline, these meetings were also held to show Microsoft´s new commitment to further branching out into devices and services. A shakeup in the executive offices in Redmond has also worked to head the company in this new direction, placing the heads of some of their services in more prominent roles.
Microsoft revealed the new Xbox One last month as the successor to their popular, eight-year-old Xbox 360 platform. To call this new console a gaming platform is to sell it short of its full potential. Microsoft is angling to make the One the hub of the family living room, complete with cloud storage, voice control, and one very interesting addition — an HDMI port.
The seemingly obvious goal here is to encourage users to plug their cable boxes directly into the One. When they do this, viewers are spared the inconvenience of looking for a remote and switching the inputs on their television. They´ll also be treated to Microsoft´s design layout as their shows will be shown through the Xbox´s lens.
Ballmer brought Microsoft´s entertainment studios boss Nancy Tellem along for last week´s trip south to Hollywood. There, Tellem is said to have introduced Ballmer to TV executives and her former employees before giving the Hollywood tycoons a private showing of the new Xbox´s capabilities, such as delivering sports, music and reality television programming. The company is expected to show off some of these features during next week´s E3 conference in Los Angeles.
Though Ballmer was reportedly in Hollywood to make nice with content providers, Deadline reports that he wanted to make one point clear: Microsoft has no intention of becoming a cable provider.
This new focus on entertainment represents a significant shift as Microsoft transitions from being a software company to a self-proclaimed devices and services company. With their gaze fixed on becoming a more device and service oriented company, Microsoft´s Xbox becomes less of a platform on which gaming developers can create best-selling titles and more of a general entertainment hub, one that will be capable of channeling every entertainment option through its ports.
Up on the northwest coast, Ballmer is said to be planning to place the heads of Microsoft´s various services in more prominent positions, giving them greater responsibility and presumably more say in the way the company is run.
According to Bloomberg, Satya Nadella, Microsoft´s server business boss; Don Mattrick, the leader of the Xbox division; Qi Lu, head of the online group; and Tony Bates, president of Skype, may all be promoted to higher ranks in the company. Inside sources told Bloomberg that while Ballmer has been discussing these changes with the board, the moves are still pending and could change at the last moment.