Stephen Elop Said To Consider Killing Xbox Division If He Becomes Microsoft CEO

8 November 2013

Bloomberg:

Besides emphasizing Office, Elop would be prepared to sell or shut down major businesses to sharpen the company’s focus, the people said. He would consider ending Microsoft’s costly effort to take on Google with its Bing search engine, and would also consider selling healthy businesses such as the Xbox game console if he determined they weren’t critical to the company’s strategy, the people said.

Killing Bing would be a monumental strategic shift, but I wouldn’t characterise it as stupid by any means. I’ve never truly understood the point of its existence aside from spiting Google.

Dropping (what Bloomberg describes as) other “healthy businesses” is also not a stupid idea in itself. It’s just important to be selective in what you kill of. If you are too overzealous, then the result is a crippled company with no associated benefit.

I would like to think Elop is smart enough to make these choices correctly, but Bloomberg specifically calls out the Xbox as a business to kill. Ending the Xbox project is a step too far, in my opinion. The Xbox is the only thing Microsoft does that has universal appeal. Selling off your most successful division (at least in terms of brand reputation) is an example of being too ruthless.