In 1997, Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) paid an estimated $400 to $500 million for one of the Internet’s first webmail programs, Hotmail. Today, the software giant is officially launching Outlook.com to replace the 17-year old webmail program.
This announcement really cannot generate much more than a big yawn. It is another example of Microsoft replaying yesterday’s game. In a television interview yesterday, company chairman and co-founder Bill Gates admitted that Microsoft had screwed up a few things:
[CEO Steve Ballmer] and I are two of the most self-critical people you can imagine. [Are Surface and Xbox] enough? No, [Ballmer] and I are not satisfied that in terms of breakthrough things that we’re doing everything possible.
Isn’t that the truth? Ballmer messed up the swift market transition to smartphones, and the company will be lucky to hold on to a distant third behind Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). Microsoft is battling it out with BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) for third place, and the Redmond behemoth stands a good chance of losing.
What does Microsoft do? Upgrades its free email program. Yesterday’s news, today.