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Will Apple Envy Help Microsoft?

I was flabbergasted reading some of the language in Steve Ballmer’s memo Thursday to Microsoft employees about their company’s reorganization. Over and over the language Ballmer used was exactly the language Steve Jobs used to explain the organizational structure of Apple.

I should know. I wrote a book about this. In fact, in explaining Apple’s functional organization, one of the easiest comparisons was with Microsoft, whose famously warring factions are organized as distinct entities.

No longer. Listen to how Ballmer addresses the troops:

We are rallying behind a single strategy as one company — not a collection of divisional strategies. Although we will deliver multiple devices and services to execute and monetize the strategy, the single core strategy will drive us to set shared goals for everything we do. We will see our product line holistically, not as a set of islands.” He punctuates the message clearly: “We will organize the company by function.

The shift will be difficult to pull off, but Ballmer seems committed to centralizing everything that matters at Microsoft. It will consolidate key functions and even some that may seem less central. These include, advertising, a Jobsian move.

The irony: Microsoft is moving the Apple way just as it’s getting hard for Apple to embrace the Apple way. I get into this in more detail in post today on Fortune.com.

Photo: Paul Hudson/Flickr

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