Steve Ballmer is leaving Microsoft's CEO seat and with him may also be going the main driver behind the Xbox.
Ballmer's given a bunch of interviews that do the standard, "We've faced challenges, we'll survive, I love Microsoft" stuff but then he deals with Xbox and plants a worrying seed given stockholder worry and even the potential for the new Microsoft management to ditch the division. Fortune Magazine tells it like this:
Getting into the living room with the Xbox? That "was my decision, my accountability," Ballmer says. "I believe in accountability. I'm in. I'm accountable. I'll make this workónot that I had to drive itóbut we had some bumps on the road. And it was important that I stay accountable, stay patient, and stay behind the decision that we made."
Robbie Bach, the former head of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division and head of Xbox from the launch of the original Xbox in 2001, remembers Ballmer spending six months conducting a thorough business review to determine whether there was actually opportunity for Microsoft before giving the team the go-ahead.
He made the call one month into his new role. "He was willing to step out into a space that Microsoft had never been in, look at a business model, and say this is something we need to try," Bach says.
Let's hope there's a strong voice inside the company bucking for Xbox when Ballmer leaves. Or maybe not, maybe Xbox as a separate company would be best for us all?