Microsoft’s Ballmer Ready to Take On Apple

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer isn’t happy with Apple’s dominance in the mobile market, so he’s planning on bringing the iPhone and iPad maker down a notch or two with his new Surface tablet. In fact, he says Microsoft is stepping up its game to make sure that there aren’t any markets where Apple’s products can take the top spot.

“We are trying to make absolutely clear we are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple,” Mr. Ballmer told CRN in an interview. “We are not. No space uncovered that is Apple’s.”

While Microsoft is the undisputed marketshare leader in the desktop operating system space, the company hasn’t fared as well in other markets like portable media players, smartphones and tablets. The Zune portable media player, for example, never caught on like Apple’s iPod and consequently saw weak sales before eventually fading away.

Smartphones built on Microsoft’s mobile version of Windows are available from several phone makers, but iPhone sales rake in more than the combined total of all of Microsoft’s sales. In the tablet space, Apple is the reigning king with the iPad, leaving Windowsand Android-based tablets fighting for what’s left over.

Mr. Ballmer is hoping that his just announced Surface tablet can change the game. The 10-inch tablet will be available in versions running Windows 8 or Windows RT, and are being pushed as an extension of Windows PCs. The unveiling, however, left plenty of unanswered questions like exactly when it will ship and how much it will cost.

He also implied that Microsoft might start making its own smartphones to compete with the iPhone. When asked about the smartphone space, he said, “Right now we are working real hard on the Surface. That’s the focus. That’s our core. Look, we’ll see what happens.”

Where he was clear was on Microsoft’s intent to take away Apple’s market leader position.

“But we are not going to let any piece of this [go uncontested to Apple],” he said Ballmer. “Not the consumer cloud. Not hardware software innovation. We are not leaving any of that to Apple by itself. Not going to happen. Not on our watch.”

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Comments

dlstarr7

I love this.

Is this the same guy who once said, “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance”?
http://www.electronista.com/articles/07/04/30/ballmer.on.iphone/

RKO

Ballmer just made the death list.

Marzellius

I hope Apple fights back this time. I’m sick of Microsoft copying Apple. They completely failed at tablets until Apple showed then how it’s done.
Tim Cook needs to go ahead an put Microsoft out of its misery.

geoduck

Microsoft is trying to dethrone Apple.
Apple is trying to make really cool products that fulfill a need and let the customers vote with their feet.
See the difference? It’s a proactive v. reactive thing.

You don’t lead when your target is the guy ahead of you. You lead when your target is the goal, and in this business, customer satisfaction is the only goal that counts.

Lee Dronick

?Not the consumer cloud. Not hardware software innovation. We are not leaving any of that to Apple by itself. Not going to happen. Not on our watch.?

How long have they been on watch? I am not saying that MicroSoft couldn’t do it, just that they are pretty far behind and have a lot of work to do. Furthermore, I doubt that Apple is waiting for them to catch up.

FlipFriddle

Why hasn’t the board fired this guy yet? He’s basically just admitting that they let all this happen on HIS watch. Not only has Ballmer had his head in the sand these past 5 years but so has their board.

zewazir

When a business let’s their competitor set the bar, they have failed right out of the gate.

What is it with Balmer, anyway? Why the antipathy toward Apple?  It is hardly Apple’s fault that M$ has pretty much failed in every endeavor except enterprise desktop OS.

Aftermac

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For as long as Ballmer insisted that Apple wasn’t a threat, and not on Microsoft’s radar, I find this frickin’ hilarious!!

Woodbine

Why didn’t he say “Apple and Google” because the way it’s going, between them they are already eating MS lunch and tomorrow their supper.

geoduck

Why didn?t he say ?Apple and Google? because the way it?s going, between them they are already eating MS lunch and tomorrow their supper.

Absolutely. Apple is taking the high end and Google/Samsung et al the low end. I don’t see any way Microsoft can chisel off part of the market. What do they have to offer? A tablet ersatz ultrabook? Windows integration on tablets? They have no cloud structure, no meaningful store compared to Apple’s or Google’s, a history of stabbing their partners in the back (Play For Sure) leaving customers hanging (Kin), and shipping half completed software (every version of Windows since the mid ‘90s).

ziploc

Balmer is going off the deep end.  From his comments above I would say he is WAY too focused on Apple and not enough focused on Microsoft making good products.

?We are trying to make absolutely clear we are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple,? Mr. Ballmer told CRN in an interview. ?We are not. No space uncovered that is Apple?s.?

Really?  Blinded by vengeance.

geoduck

I would say he is WAY too focused on Apple and not enough focused on Microsoft making good products.

To use the obligatory hockey reference
He’s not even skating to where the puck is rather than where it will be.
He’s so focused on where the other player is he’s not even watching the puck.

MOSiX Man

So Microsoft is going to maintain a strong presence in the phone market with Windows Phone 8, er… um, phones? Maybe a small presence. The OS is nice and Nokia makes quality hardware, but there is no significant ecosystem supporting and promoting the growth for the product, and that is unlikely to change. I doubt it will ever be any real threat to the iPhone.

Then you have the Surface. The reason I know it will flounder is that pretty much every tech guy and girl I know, that is ambivalent toward Apple products and uses Windows as their primary desktop OS (there are more than a few), is saying that it looks ‘neat’, but that they think it will flop. They think it is either just a half-decent netbook (a product category that they universally loathe), an awkward quasi-ultrabook, or a tablet running an OS that can’t hold up against iOS or Android, on a tablet. They’re pretty much all holding out to get the Nexus 7 or whatever comes next. These are the people that you would expect to be the target audience for the Surface, and they just aren’t interested in buying it.

Oh, I get it now! MS is going to compete with Apple’s offerings in the home entertainment appliance space. What? The Mediacenter PC idea died? Ah… They’ve been trying, again, with the XBox? I don’t recall hearing about their massive success in that market. (Not that Apple is currently winning in that market space, either, but at least the AppleTV ties in with iCloud and the iTunes infrastructure, and therefore has a base upon which it can grow.)

Joe Kelley

Balmer’s crystal ball is made of mud. He completely missed how dominant the iPhone would become. Microsoft had no concept of how important the Internet was when they released Win 95. Google came from nowhere to dominate on-line services. While they could see tablets were the future, they were completely clueless about its execution. Why should we think their judgement is any better now? By the time they produce a viable mobile product, Apple will have moved on to the next big thing, leaving Microsoft in the dust again. Like Jobs said, “Microsoft has no taste.”

marcsten

On the announcement of Surface, Jay Leno described was on national television calling the commpetitor to the iPad s the i3YearsTooLate pad.

MOSiX Man

I think I’ve finally figured out Balmer! He must secretly be on Apple’s payroll. He just can’t be too obvious about driving MS into the ground or there would be endless legal issues. He’s just subtly nudging it out of relevance.

mrmwebmax

+

Ballmer’s just upset because, in five mere years, Apple’s iPhone business has become larger than ALL of Microsoft. Not just Windows. Not just Office. All. Of. Microsoft:

http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-02-04/tech/31023911_1_steve-ballmer-iphone-microsoft-ceo

How he keeps his job is a mystery for the ages.

ibuck

Having fun with the hockey analogy: geoduck said:

He?s so focused on where the other player is he?s not even watching the puck.

Perhaps Balmer is saying “What’s the puck?”

Sure seems like the MS Board is letting him skate. To Apple’s benefit? Let him skate.

Chuck

I that Apple was “a rounding error” and nothing for mighty Microsoft to be concerned about?

Intruder

?We are trying to make absolutely clear we are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple,? Mr. Ballmer told CRN in an interview. ?We are not. No space uncovered that is Apple?s. Well, except for the whole iPod thing. We did kinda give that one up to Apple. I figured banning iPods from the Microsoft campus would change things, but that didn’t have the effect I was looking for. BUT NOTHING ELSE.”

There. Fixed it for ya.

Lee Dronick
jscottk

So.., you’re bringing the Zune back?!?

MOSiX Man

I’m sorry, but while the Woz is a beloved icon, he has been irrelevant for a long time, and he often appears to be deluded about how much he actually understood Steve Jobs.

How many start-ups has Woz backed within the last decade, and how many of them have flopped? What innovation has he actually contributed to and what has he actually added to the tech world, since he left Apple? Maybe I’m really unaware of his real accomplishments. If so, please enlighten me.

geoduck

What innovation has he actually contributed to and what has he actually added to the tech world, since he left Apple?

As much as it pains me to add to this I believe you are correct. He’s been an inspirational figure. He’s helped with educational programs. He’s done a lot of great stuff, but he’s much like Charles Lindbergh in the 1950s. He has slipped out of the focus of the industry he helped create. A year or two ago there was a discussion on these very forums about who should replace Jobs and the idea was floated that it should be Woz. I said then that it would be a mistake because while he’s a great person he’s not been in the leading edge of the industry for a long time.

badlemon

Microsoft has been trying to “join the battle” for years.  What?  They’re going to pretend that they weren’t putting up a fight until now?  And by doing what?  Trying to be all things to all people?  This is the same strategy that they’ve been using for years.  No one has listened…  no one has cared.  A couple of headlines read primarily by technical people aren’t going to change the mess that Microsoft has created by their complete lack of focus and extreme lack of commitment in the Balmer era.  Are their shareholders brain dead?  I’m really curious…

Steve

nealg

Ballmer has been irrelevant for years. The years he has been at the helm of MSFT have been great for Apple. If he can’t get MSFT relevant in the mobile space, he will be gone and that will be a sad day for Apple fans.

akcarver

You don?t lead when your target is the guy ahead of you. You lead when your target is the goal, and in this business, customer satisfaction is the only goal that counts.

That?s brilliant. I wish I?d thought of it.

Winski

Bomber is clearly off his Meds.

Secondly, you, the consumer, will NEVER SEE A SURFACE TABLET FROM MICROSOFT ON ANY WORLD MARKET - EVER.

etype

All Apple has to do is release OSX as an open install (any compatible hardware) and MS is history.

And MS knows it.

Jonny

Time for Steve to check in…REHAB….he must be smoking crack or something.

Way out of touch with reality.

WHEN WILL THE PIGS FLY OUT OF HIS BUTT

pigPad
pigPod
pigPhone
picMic

They announced the tablet, now they can’t get the parts, what a joke

Oh Oh Oh..I got it…they could run it with Java…Hah..!

wab95

If I were substantively invested in MS, and I am not, I would be disturbed by this.

Apart from a confluence of factors, not least of which was product endorsement from the then leading company in business machines, combined with an aggressive marketing strategy that exploited a lax regulatory system at that time, both of which propelled MS to unassailable dominance on the only computer hardware platform of that age, beige boxes, and their modern day spawn, grey boxes, MS have consistently demonstrated an inability to compete head to head with Apple in the consumer space.

Indeed, these companies’ business models, let alone their product lines, do not put them in direct competition. They never have. It has been a fabrication of the fanboys and the popular press that these two are direct competitors. Yes, they did compete in that first wave, and now bygone, era of personal computer on the vision of the way forward; and MS won that. One can argue the merits of that win all one wishes, but the fact remains, and even SJ himself conceded, that that fight was decisively won by MS and was over and done.

But that was round 1. This is a long game that is being played out, under our very eyes, over generations. No one living today will see the end of it; although we may well see the end of some current key players.

Ballmer’s bombast, in my view, signals desperation, but more importantly, speaks volumes to lack of insight, direction, purpose or internal guidance along a company-driven plan and vision for the future. This is all reactive to not only Apple’s vision, but its accomplishments.

More than this, it is suggestive of a flaw in the company’s culture and sense of place (assuming that Ballmer speaks for his company’s ethos), as it suggests MS feel entitled to a place of primacy based on others’ work. What do I mean by that? Simply, if MS can soundly beat Apple at one thing at one point in time (desktop OS market dominance in the 1990’s - together with rider products like a browser and an office suite) then it should occupy that same relative position of dominance against Apple in anything else that Apple does at any other point in time; whether it be retail stores, notebook computers, tablets, smartphones, online stores, music players in 2012 - you name it. It should be 90+% for MS and single digit share for Apple because, well, it happened before for another product in another time period.

This is irrational. It’s like saying, ‘I beat you on the maths exam. Therefore, despite the fact that you’ve trained for a marathon, and I have not, I should also beat you, by the same factor, in the marathon - or tennis or martial arts or a cooking contest - you name it. Anything you can do, I can do better because I am better than you and am entitled to remain your better in every circumstance through all time.

A psychiatrist would gladly clear his calendar to make room for such a patient.

No. Were I an investor, I would see this statement, and all that it suggests, as a vapid but nonetheless informative indicator that the company has lost its moorings, does not know itself, its strengths or even the business that it is in, that it lacks internal guidance; and that, unless it undergoes a serious course correction, and all that that implies, we may well be witnessing the pain-filled passing of a titan into a diminished and second-tiered future.

Winski

@wab95…. You are not on this wavelength by yourself.. To others out here that have been laughing at Bomber for decades, all your speculation about desperation and delusion seem almost like daily treats coming from the Monkey Kingdom…

I’ve been laughing at these clowns for decades, taking their money when it comes floating by and kicking it in the face every chance I get ....tee hee… It’ll be fun to watch the board of Microshaft finally get enough brass to blow Bomber up…

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