"I tuned into today's conversation between Microsoft's Robbie Bach and financial analysts at CES. Bach is the president of the company's Entertainment and Devices division, which includes Xbox, Windows Mobile, retail channel relationships, and most of the other fun stuff. It also includes the Zune, which, given its lack of financial impact on the company, he didn't spend a lot of time on.
Toward the end however, one analyst (not identified on the recording) suggested that the company's foray into MP3 players had been a waste of time. Today, Microsoft talks about providing software and services on "three screens"--the PC, the TV, and mobile devices. So why did Microsoft make a foray into hardware, which alienated its device-maker partners (remember PlaysForSure?), and probably cost the company tens or hundreds of millions so far. "