Steve Ballmer: Microsoft is Centrist, Apple is Edgy

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Steve Ballmer started out warm and engaging in the interview. But when questioned about Windows security, he grew dark and left the room, Smart Money reported on Monday.

When asked how he felt about Steve Jobs stealing the CES thunder with the Apple iPhone, and if he wished Microsoft had one, Mr. Baller replied, "No. Apple has put its brand into a new category. That doesnit mean itis a good product. I wouldnit be surprised if one of our partners came out with a device that looks exactly the same at a lower price in six or seven months [near the time when iPhones will ship]. Thereis a notion that thereis magic with Apple. IPod is a hot brand ? not Apple."

Mr. Ballmer also had some choice words about Appleis position in various markets, especially entertainment and said, "itis a romantic notion that Apple has the lead. People who build overpriced, underpowered equipment and then market it in an edgy way do not have a formula for broad success. In the home there are PCs; Apple has no presence. There are videogame machines; Apple has no presence. TVs: Apple has no presence; Microsoft has some presence. Music: Apple has a very large presence [via the iPod]..."

Smart Money senior writer Dyan Machan had some additional questions for the Microsoft CEO (since 2000), but the opening salvo on Apple gave keen insight into how Mr. Ballmer views his companyis competitive position when he said that Microsoft is all about, "Leadership, responsibility and innovation."

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