Explaining Microsoft's Decline with The Wire

By: 
Lauren Mang
Oh, String. How I love thee.

Because I love ANYTHING that references The Wire and ANYTHING featuring a picture of the ever-dreamy, junior-college-attending, drug mastermind Stringer Bell, I found this article by David Auerbach "How Microsoft Lost Its Way, as Understood Through The Wire" on Slate.com particularly interesting.

Auerbach makes his case for the commonalities between Microsoft and Avon Barksdale's drug organization by comparing heroin (Barksdale's product) and the Franklin Towers housing project (his real estate) with Microsoft's Windows and PC:

For years, both of them had the strongest package. They owned their territory, owned their market, owned their users. They were untouchable. Then times changed, bringing new competitors with new, intense products. Their own product went weak. But they couldn’t let go. “We got a weak product, and we holding on to prime real estate with no muscle,” Avon’s cerebral second-in-command, Stringer Bell, complains to him. For the Barksdale organization, the product was heroin and the real estate was the drug-ravaged Franklin Towers housing project. For Microsoft, the product is Windows and the real estate is the PC.

The cast continues. Marlow gets to be Google! Prop Joe is Apple! (What about Snoop?!) And Omar! Auerbach writes:

Sure, Linus Tovalds—aka Omar Little—was a perennial annoyance, robbing Microsoft of server profits by giving away Linux for free, but he didn’t threaten the main business. For novelty’s sake, they could cut Windows with all sorts of adulterants (remember Active Desktop? Or MSN Explorer?) and users would still keep buying, at least for a while. As far as Microsoft was concerned, consumers didn’t have a choice, because Microsoft couldn’t imagine being bested by upstart punks any more than Avon Barksdale could.

The game is the game, I suppose.

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