Microsoft's Ballmer Blasts Apple; Most iPod-Saved Music "Stolen"

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said at a press briefing in London on Sunday that the future of digital technology in the home rests with Microsoft and not Apple Computer. He also categorized the majority of music stored on Appleis portable music players as "stolen".

Mr. Ballmer described the growing home market for technology at a crucial "tipping point", which could lead to a dramatic increase in sales for converged devices that integrate video, audio and computer technology.

"There will be an explosion in demand," he is quoted as saying by reporter Michael Parsons. "People werenit really sure where these new devices fitted in. At two hundred bucks, maybe, but at three hundred or four hundred bucks, it was too hard to bootstrap the device type."

Mr. Ballmer said Appleis home technology solutions do not have a chance at grabbing the lions share of the merging home technology market.

"There is no way that you can get there with Apple," he commented. "The critical mass has to come from the PC, or a next-generation video device."

Mr. Ballmer also said he believed the majority of music stored by consumers on popular Apple iPod and iPod mini devices is illegally copied.

"The most common format of music on an iPod is istoleni," he said. "Most people still steal music. "We can build the technology but there are still ways for people to steal music."

Contrary to other published reports, Mr. Ballmer was not quoted as saying iPod users are music thieves. A headline by journalist Andy McCue of gave the impression Mr. Ballmer made such a comment, but The Mac Observer has confirmed through other reporters who attended the event that he never made such a comment. Mr. McCueis headline appeared to be a itabloid-likei bannerline paraphrasing the comments of Mr. Ballmer.

Mr. Ballmer also said Microsoft is working to improve its digital rights management (DRM) technology to making music copying harder to do, but still make using a portable music device easier.