Microsoft’s Ballmer Ready to Take On Apple

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.”