Microsoft narrows CEO search to four candidates

Nokia, Skype, Ford bosses in the running for top post.


Microsoft has narrowed down its search for a new CEO to four known candidates, according to a report from Reuters.

Former Skype CTO Tony Bates and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella are in the running, alongside Nokia’s Stephen Elop and Ford’s Alan Mulally.

Bates is now responsible for Microsoft’s business development and Nadella has been running the company’s cloud and enterprise business.

Elop is returning to Microsoft once the acquisition of Nokia is complete, and Ford’s Mulally is a strong candidate despite being committed to the motor company until 2014, according to the report.

Current CEO Steve Ballmer has said he will retire within the next 12 months. He is overseeing the search for a successor, which has apparently been whittled down from a list of 40 candidates.

Microsoft reported record first quarter sales last month of $18.53 billion, with profit of $5.24 billion.



App devs facing major problems with piracy, profitability

New App Developer Conference survey finds 26% of devs have had their apps pirated, and many struggle to make any profit.

Organizers of the new App Developers Conference (ADC) – taking place November 5th-7th at the Los Angeles Convention Center and co-located with another inaugural event, GDC Next – have revealed interesting data about the significant challenges facing today’s app developers.

While games clearly rule the apps world (69 percent of devs surveyed made games), the developers making the apps have numerous challenges to overcome in order to see success. Piracy in particular has become very prevalent. 26 percent of surveyed developers reported that their apps had been pirated, and even if a game is free, it’s not protected against piracy. For developers whose apps use in-app purchases (IAP), 26 percent also found that their IAPs had been obtained without any payment.

“Of our 8 million+ total downloads,” one dev confessed, “1.5 million+ have been pirated, mostly in Russia and China. 
Another dev commented that, on Android, “approximately 90 percent of in-app purchases were faked.”

Aside from piracy, the top problem for app devs remains discoverability. This was the top-cited obstacle to success in the ADC survey. Too many apps, crowded app stores, consumers’ expectations for free or $0.99-priced apps, and device fragmentation were all cited as contributing to the discoverability problem.

The bottom line is that app development isn’t the opportunity many think it is. The numbers on profitability are somewhat startling. 40 percent of all surveyed developers made zero revenue from their latest app, and nearly half made zero profit from that app (through all channels, including download fees for paid apps, ad revenue, and income from in-app purchases). That said, it’s important to note that roughly half of the zero-revenue devs are solo developers that don’t pursue development full-time. Even so, 26 percent of all full-time devs made zero revenue on their last app. Devs going it alone have an especially difficult time, as 70 percent of solo, full-time devs reported making zero profit on their latest app.

81 percent of the devs surveyed were targeting iOS as their primary platform compared to 68 percent developing on Android. Most, however, look to leverage multiple platforms; 72 percent of iOS devs also develop for Android, 36 percent for web, 32 percent for Windows, and 24 percent for Mac OS, while 86 percent of Android devs also target iOS, 42 percent target Windows and web browsers, and 26 percent for Mac OS.



Former Steam boss Jason Holtman lands at Microsoft

Valve veteran will be focused on “making Windows a great platform for gaming”

Jason Holtman lands at Microsoft

Jason Holtman, who spearheaded Valve’s Steam business for eight years before leaving the company in February, has a new job.

The former lawyer has taken a job with Microsoft, with a focus on PC gaming and entertainment strategy. Because he has just started at the position, Holtman declined an interview request, but confirmed the move.

“Yes, I have joined Microsoft where I will be focusing on making Windows a great platform for gaming and interactive entertainment,” he said. “I think there is a lot of opportunity for Microsoft to deliver the games and entertainment customers want and to work with developers to make that happen, so I’m excited to be here.”

Holtman’s departure from Valve after an eight-year tenure came cloaked in mystery. He left the company at the same time as several high-profile employees were reportedly laid off. Valve did not address the reasons behind the staff reductions, with founder Gabe Newell telling Engadget “We’re not going to discuss why anyone in particular is or isn’t working here.”

At Valve, Holtman was the primary point of contact for developers that distributed games on Steam – and, to many in the gaming world, was the service’s driving force. While he certainly wasn’t the sole reason for its success, he was its biggest cheerleader and an even bigger proponent of digital distribution.

As a result, his move to Microsoft has raised many questions about the Redmond-based company’s plans in the PC gaming space.

With the Xbox One launch looming, Microsoft has greatly de-emphasized PC gaming of late. Some developer sources tell GamesIndustry International they were under the impression the company had largely given up on the Games for Windows initiative.

Holtman’s hiring could signal a renewed emphasis on the computer, though.

“It seems like a guy who comes from Valve who has no peer, in my mind, in the gaming space relative to really strong B-to-C [business to consumer] relations could indicate a ramp up in the importance of that space,” says John Taylor, managing director at Arcadia Investment Corp.

A skilled dealmaker, Holtman is largely credited with convincing third party publishers such as EA, Activision and more to sell their games directly on Steam – as well as recruiting many smaller companies who might otherwise have vanished by now.

He’s also credited with steering Steam through the DRM controversies it encountered and calming publisher fears that the annual Steam Summer and holiday sales would devalue their intellectual properties.

The respect he has earned in leading digital distribution could be invaluable to Microsoft, which has not had a lot of success in that world. Though available in 41 countries, the Games for Windows Live service is currently not viewed as a strong player in the PC gaming world.

It’s not just his relationship with publishers and developers that’s valuable, though. Holtman also knows how to connect with customers – something Microsoft has been lacking so far in its digital distribution efforts.

Of course, Holtman’s duties could expand beyond just PC gaming as well. Digital distribution is expected to be a major component of the eighth generation of consoles. And while his experience so far has been on the PC side, Microsoft may be looking for Holtman to drive adoption and consumer loyalty of online purchases on the Xbox One in the years to come.

“[Business to consumer] is not just having someone’s credit card number,” says Taylor. “It’s how you use that handshake to maximize satisfaction for the vendor and maximize satisfaction for the customers. This kind of direct relationship is the next stage in the evolution of the games business. Valve is already there on the PC side and I think Microsoft would be very happy to have some sort of Valve template to lay on top of the Xbox.”



Xbox One does a 360′

So Microsoft has done an about face on it’s DRM decision to require an online check in as they so revealed at this years E3 conference.

Xbox One does a 360'

 As many have suggested and I tend to agree, they have bowed under pressure from Sony and thousands of gamers who have vented their frustration and anger at Microsost by going to sites like Amazon and Gamestop and pre-ordering their PS4’s in droves.
I guess what Microsoft understands most are numbers, and those numbers definately showed them that without even releasing their system yet, they were already losing the next gen war and losing many loyal fans in the process. Now I know it is all about money and Sony is no different, but when a company arrogantly shoves it’s policies in consumers faces, it is never good, just look at Adobe and the anger they have unleashed from users by making their Adobe CC subscription cloud the only way to use their software programs. Even now they are looking to see if they should change those policies. You see, we as a people and as consumers have the power, we just rarely use them or even think anyone will listen to us.

Going to Twitter, facebook or whatever social media outlet that tickles your fancy is not enough. Companies look at numbers. Money numbers, and that is where we can win, by not buying their products or going to the competiton and speaking out on social media sites and their own sites and tell them just why we are doing it. That scares them.

Xbox One does a 360'

I think the shift in their policy will win a few loyalists over but the overall damage is done and gamers will look at them in a different light, an untrusting one at that. Where Sony showed compassion to consumers and gamers and actually listened to us, Microsoft did not. It’s not the first time either, look at Windows 8. Even before it was released and after the fact, Microsoft kept telling consumers why “we” were wrong and they were right, again shoved in our faces. Look at what happened, sales fell not only on Win8 but on the entire PC industry and all blamed Microsoft and their arrogance. Companies do not listen to us, until they take hits where it counts most to them…NUMBERS. We have the power and we are learning how to use it.

I am a gamer and I own all systems so this is more about my anger to companies and developers who try to shovel their will down my throat, but guess what? It’s my money and you can have it when you give me what I want, not the other way around.

We  would love to listen to your opinions on this. Let us know what console you will be getting also and why.  I’ll admit I will get an Xbox One in the future, but for now, I already pre-ordered my PS4.