Steve Balmer's thoughts on Apple, from our Charlotte newspaper.

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by 1QukMINI, Jun 21, 2009.

  1. 1QukMINI macrumors newbie

    Jun 29, 2007
    A very interesting interview in the Charlotte Observer with Steve Balmer says some interesting things about Apple, that are classic Balmer BS. The question and answer are listed here:

    Talk from the top Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO
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    Microsoft banks on bang from Bing
    By Andrew Dunn
    Posted: Sunday, Jun. 21, 2009

    Google and Apple get a lot of attention, but Microsoft is still the giant in the technology industry.

    Under the leadership of its energetic chief executive officer, Steve Ballmer, the company has more than 90,000 employees and $17billion in annual income. Microsoft has about 1,100 employees in Charlotte. About 200 more are near Raleigh.

    Ballmer was in town Friday to speak at an N.C. Technology Association conference uptown. After his keynote speech, he sat down with the Observer to talk about the future of mobile computing and Microsoft's new search engine (Bing) and to take some jabs at his two big competitors. Questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

    Q: What's in store for Microsoft operations in Charlotte and Raleigh?

    We've been pretty stable in Charlotte. We've made some small adjustments in North Carolina. Handfuls of people, not a significant cutback in any way, shape or form.

    I wouldn't anticipate much growth, but I also wouldn't anticipate much more downsizing either. We do good work here, we get good people here. This has been a great talent market for us, and the productivity of the teams here is fantastic. Unless things go much worse in the economy, we've done our set of adjustments for the economic issues.

    Until we know where we are in the economy, I don't anticipate much growth anywhere. We certainly have some planned additions. But I would say our employment will be steady as opposed to rapidly growing, at least until we know where we are.

    Q: How has Microsoft's core business changed in your nine years as CEO?

    If you look at us from a revenue and profitability perspective, the most interesting changes over that time would probably be three or four:

    Windows and Office were big and are big. We've really added a server and enterprise business, which was small and now is huge and profitable. Very profitable. So that's a good add. I don't know whether it's a stray from the core. Now we look at it as part of the core, but 10 years ago it was not.

    We were losing money in funding Xbox. Xbox now generates money. Was that a stray from the core? I would say it was an extension of the core. It is now a profitable extension of the core and I think it was something good.

    I hope we continue to strengthen the core and I hope we continue to extend the core with Bing, with what we're doing with Windows Mobile and a number of other initiatives.

    Q: There's lots of talk about screen sizes. Small screens on the mobile phone, medium screen laptop and desktop computers, and large television-like screens. What do you see as the future of screens?

    I think people are going to use all three. I think anybody who doubts that all three will have an important role is probably wrong-minded.

    What device will you have with you the greatest percentage of the time? Probably the small screen.

    What device will you do your most important work, whatever that is? The answer is going to be the medium screen device.

    And where will you relax? Will you relax with a medium or large screen device, because it's more of an immersive experience? Maybe that's reading or watching video or whatever the case is.

    What's most important? The question is, “What are you doing?”

    Q: Do you think that we're too connected as a society? Do we use technology too much?

    No, and we'll be much more connected as we go forward. I see no downside to being connected. Are we too connected to paper now?

    In the 1500s, 1600s, post-Gutenberg there was probably a time when people asked if we were too dependent on writing on paper. I don't know how else to say it. It's a technology that facilitates life. Let's look forward, let's not look back.

    Q: Where do you compete with Google?

    The case of where we are attacking and they are strong competitively is in search. Where they are attacking and we are strong is in productivity and communications. It's kind of natural that each guy is trying to have some incursion.

    They're really a one-product company. They really only have a search business and everything else has no revenue. They might have users in some things, like they do for Gmail, but they really have one thing that pays all the bills. We have a number of things that pay our bills and some things we're investing in, like search.

    We're certainly going to compete in our current area of weakness, and we anticipate that they're going to make a run at us. It's our job to do the right stuff, be smart, run fast. The fact of the matter is, we're way ahead in productivity and communications. We have a lot of tools, we have a lot of customers, we have a lot of assets. They're going to try to be disruptive, and they're not going to be an easy competitor.

    Q: This week, it was announced that Microsoft settled an antitrust lawsuit in Mississippi, and several other lawsuits have cropped up in the past few years. Do you see these as a threat to the company?

    Very, very successful companies are going to invite regulator scrutiny. It's the good and the bad of big-time success. We have to be sure to understand what that means.

    It's a fact of our life.

    Q: How is Microsoft's new search engine, Bing, performing?

    It's running well. But it's too early to get excited.

    So far, the most important thing is that people are using it and think it's pretty interesting. It's a different point of view. They're finding things they never found before.

    It's not a projectable story, but my wife got an e-mail from a friend saying, “Tell Steve I switched to Bing. I don't prefer your results or Google results. They seem similar. But I really like the picture on the front.” Hey, every little thing has the ability to say something.

    People like the images, some people like the video. Some people say it doesn't look like a search engine and it's a good thing, some people say it doesn't look like a search engine and it's a bad thing.

    We don't have to captivate everybody to start. We don't have to be better for everybody. But we have to be better for some.

    Q: How do you view the state of the economy?

    This economy certainly has come down and it's staying down. The good thing is we haven't found a second cliff to fall over. Which can happen; I'm not sitting here saying there won't be another cliff. But we fell kind of far and now we're relatively flat. Flat to slightly down.

    But there's still good news in that.

    Q: There's the criticism that Microsoft products just don't look as cool and sexy as Apple products. Are you trying to make yourself more hip?

    Apple is Apple. Apple is well positioned for its share. It's a company that has about 3 percent of the PC market. Their positioning is right for a guy who wants to have a 3- or 4-percent share and isn't trying to have a 70-, 80-percent share.

    We need to have a position that works for high school kids, college kids, that works for people who are early in their working careers, young parents and retired people.

    I want to be popular, which is a little different than being cool. Neither one's wrong. Apple's got a good business, it's good for them. We've got a good business that's good for us. I don't think they want to be positioned as we are, and I don't want to be positioned as they are. There's a reason they only have 3 percent market share.

    Part of their whole deal is based on having products that are priced higher, designed for people who want things that look a certain way, that make a statement. And that's fine. Of course we want to take share from them on the margin, but I don't think we're trying to be Apple in any sense.

    Our ads don't say we're hip. They basically say the best values, the best diversity and the best choices are all in PCs.

    The article can be found here:
  2. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    That guy amazes me with how lame he is. every time he opens his mouth I'm reminded of why I can't stand Microsoft products so much.
  3. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    Much nicer than the on-stage antics everyone seems to be all to fond to point out.
  4. liptonlover macrumors 6502a

    Mar 13, 2008
    Ok I'm a little tired right now, and I'm really confused. What's wrong with what he said? Aside from a few numbers possibly being off, I think it was a great interview. He's right to an extent about Apple; don't forget they're his direct competitor and he can't go praising them or anything. I did think however he didn't give Google nearly enough credit.

  5. Randman macrumors 65816


    Jul 28, 2008
    Jacksonville, Fla
    Ballmer has the anti-reality Distortion field.
  6. coupdetat macrumors 6502

    Jul 11, 2008
    I think he's absolutely right about Apple. The way Apple runs its business is very profitable, but not suited for wide market adoption. Microsoft operates differently, but still very profitably. They can coexist. I'm always a little wary about Microsoft's attempts to steal market share from Google, though. I think they need to make Windows and Office truly excellent (aka better than OSX) before wasting more time trying fruitlessly to beat Google at search/advertising.
  7. JNB macrumors 604


    Oct 7, 2004
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    More like the Reality Repudiation Field.
  8. FX120 macrumors 65816


    May 18, 2007
    He is right on that number, he is of course talking about global market share, not US market share where it is more like 8%.

    Honestly this whole interview was pretty level headed for him, and I can't say I really disagree with anything that he said.
  9. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Yes, I was waiting for something incendiary, and didn't see it. The most antagonistic / unreasonable things he said were probably about Google and not MS. The dumbest thing he said (which may well just have been truncated) was that there were 3-4 significant changes to Microsoft in his 9 years and only naming two. Meh.

    His statement about Apple, in the global desktop/notebook/server computer market is very reasonable, IMHO.

    And kudos to him for the extent he was actually able to make the XBox franchise into a revenue/profit generator and not just a loss leader.
  10. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    I think it was a pretty decent interview. Then again I probably belong to the minority on these fora that are capable of maintaining a somewhat even keel when it comes to things like Microsoft news items.
  11. Shivetya macrumors 65816

    Jan 16, 2008
    Well that any many Apple fan sites report market share by combining phone and macs (because after all isn't the phone a computer?)
  12. Machinima macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2009
  13. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    Thought that it was a good interview.

    His Apple market share seems a bit off.

    Growth comments were interesting.

    Actually surprised by his comments when I'm used to his more common off the cuff rants.
  14. OllyW Moderator


    Staff Member

    Oct 11, 2005
    The Black Country, England
    Apple's world market share is around 3.4%, so he's not that far off.
  15. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    Ballmer is correct. Each company's policies and procedures should fit its strategies and objectives. Since MS and Apple are not competing in all the same areas, it's a valid statement.

    It seems some folks don't want to listen to what was said, rather they pass judgement based on the name alone. Oh well.
  16. bartzilla macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2008
    Because you have a short attention span and base major decisions on how sharp the person talking about them looks and sounds? Oh and the fact that you've already made your mind up before they've even opened their mouth.
  17. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    Yes, it seems that Ballmer is a lot more careful to criticise this time. He's simply saying that the two companies are different, and people will gravitate towards what they each have to offer.

    Good statement...
  18. twoodcc macrumors P6


    Feb 3, 2005
    Right side of wrong
    not as bad as he's been in the past. but i can still hear the arrogance in there
  19. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    and here too by some. :) It can be found anywhere, because it is the Internet.
  20. CRAZYBUBBA macrumors 65816


    Mar 28, 2007
    He was level headed and his comments were appropriate. Nothing to get worked up about.
  21. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    Well it was a newspaper interview to begin with.

    Pretty much.
  22. applebum macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2003
    Level headed?

    Ok - he is a business man. I don't think he said anything negative, but here is what I don't understand....MS does NOT compete with Apple computers. Every Apple machine can run MS software. Most of those machines will run the MS productivity software (Office), and a lot of them will also run some form of Windows. Why shun that segment of potential customers? Why isn't he acknowledging that Apple makes great hardware and Hey, our software will run on that hardware too. Now if he wants to talk OSes, then he can talk competition. Hell, I have always thought the MS commercials would be much more effective if one of the customers chose a Mac and bought Vista too. Ultimately, why does MS care what computer anyone buys??? They want to sell Office and Windows - regardless of the hardware. I think it is poor business on his part to act like an Apple computer purchase is somehow competing against MS - he should see that as an opportunity.
  23. paolo- macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2008
    Yeah the guy has it right about Apple. They way they are doing business now, they have a fairly limited growth when it comes to computers. A select clientelle and frantic, money hungry policies...

    Mind you he's kind of bullocks when talking about Microsoft thinking they can still keep up with their half-assed ways. They have a 'core' and a weak one, they should focus on fixing it or evolving it (hey, why not a *nix like OS ?), instead of doing all these side projects that don't seem to be all that profitable... Stay small but mighty.
  24. Heilage macrumors 68030


    May 1, 2009
    Not all of it was awesome, but he had some very nice thoughts about i.e. screen sizes, connectivity and stuff like that. Also, I think he was at least partially right about Apple. The percentage was wrong, I guess, but the way Apple does business now they will never achieve a very high market share. Apple and Microsoft do business in different ways.

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