Ballmer: Competing with iPad has “Job One Urgency” for Microsoft

Microsoft CEO Steve BallmerMicrosoft CEO
Steve Ballmer

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told analysts and investors that working with hardware partners to develop a tablet that is competitive with the iPad has “job one urgency” Thursday. The comments came at Microsoft’s annual Financial Analysts Meeting as he briefed analysts on hand for the event on his company’s overall business.

“Today, one of the top issues on my mind, hey there’s a category — tablets,” Mr. Ballmer said according to live coverage notes of the event published by BusinessInsider. “Apple has done an interesting job. They’ve sold more than I’d like them to sell. We think about that. So it’s our job to say, we have got to make things happen. Just like we made things happen with netbooks, we have to do that with Slates.”

He obliquely made the case that there’s opportunity in the marketplace for there to be more specialized Windows tablets on the market to address more specific needs, saying, “We think about these devices. Not one size fits all. Been to too many meetings with journalists struggling to set up iPads for notes. We’ve got to push with our hardware partners…as soon as they are ready.”

The more important message he drove home, however, is that working with third party hardware developers to gear up with products that can compete with iPad, “is job one urgency. We are working with those partners to deliver something people want to go buy.”

On the other hand, Mr. Ballmer also appeared quite proud of the work his company did with search on the iPhone. When talking about Bing having doubled the number of searches over the last 13 months since Bing was introduced, Mr. Ballmer held up the Bing iPhone app as an area where Microsoft has excelled.

“Look at Bing in iPhone,” he said. “We think we’ve done the best work anyone has done.”

Be that as it may, Mr. Ballmer made the case that Microsoft is going to get aggressive in marketing its smartphones in the future. He said that Windows 7 Mobilewhateveritscalledthisweek for smartphones will be great, and that it will integrate with the Windows desktop beautifully.