Microsoft has announced plans to get into the hardware business in a serious way with its announced (but not shipping) Surface tablet computers. This would make them a direct competitor to its biggest customers like HP and Dell.
Now Microsoft has raised this as a risk issue in its public filings:
In an annual report that it submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday afternoon, Microsoft finally conceded something that has been rather obvious to anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the personal computer industry and Microsoft’s historical role in it. On page 14 of the document, Microsoft acknowledges that its Surface family of tablet computers could weaken support for Windows among Microsoft’s partners in the PC industry, known as original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs for short.
The company says in the document that “our Surface devices will compete with products made by our OEM partners, which may affect their commitment to our platform.”
Competing against your customers is generally not considered a path to success.