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The Courier tablet will go down in infamy as one of Microsoft’s greatest missed opportunities (and of course one of many).
A TED talk by author Dan Ariely, a behavioural economist, gives some insight into the effect the cancellation may have had on the team tasked with creating something completely new.
In the story of an unnamed large Seattle software company , starting at around 7:45 and going until the 10 minute mark, Ariely recounts how the cancellation damaged the team’s morale:
…I went to talk to a big software company in Seattle. I can’t tell you who they were, but they were a big company in Seattle. And this was a group within this software company that was put in a different building. And they asked them to innovate and create the next big product for this company. And the week before I showed up, the CEO of this big software company went to that group, 200 engineers, and cancelled the project. And I stood there in front of 200 of the most depressed people I’ve ever talked to.
Leading light in the company J Allard ended up leaving, and I suspect his departure was just the tip of the iceberg.
One wonders what the effect of repeatedly cancelling most of the most innovative projects at Microsoft has had on the company, instead of continuing to work at perfecting the consumer offering.