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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Microsoft's CEO is full of colorful, yet insightful commentary

Interviews with Microsoft's vocal chief executive, Steve Ballmer, are always entertaining.  A recent chat with The Seattle Times' Sharon Pian Chan was no exception.

In response to a question about Google CEO Eric Schmidt saying Bing was Google's chief competitor, and "a well-run, highly competitive search engine", Mr. Ballmer enthuses, "Welcome to our world, man. It's a competitive world out there. We're competing, other guys are going to compete with them. We have good competitors. Apple is a good competitor, Google is a good competitor, Oracle is a good competitor, VMware is a good competitor. We partner with Facebook, but we also compete in some dimensions with them. Hey, it's OK, just get out there and work. ... We're his best competitor, and we're a very good competitor and we're going to do a very good job."

While he might be excited to "welcome" Google to "his" world of search/competition (two things Google seems pretty well acquainted with already), he also talked about a more sober topic -- Kin.  The Kin phone project was a massive failure, with perhaps under 10,000 handsets sold after millions in investment and engineering costs.

In the interview Mr. Ballmer admits that Kin was a mess, commenting, "The No. 1 message from Kin is a message of focus. You only get so many things you can really talk about, communicate, work on with the consumer. You've got to be bold, you've got to look forward and you've got to stay focused. Kin was neither -- with 20-20 hindsight -- bold enough relative to where the market's going, and it just defocused activity from Windows Phone."

While certainly a colorful character, Mr. Ballmer seems to have a good feel about Microsoft's most promising upcoming products at least.  He states that "Windows Phone 7 or Kinect or IE9 (Internet Explorer 9)" are some of Microsoft's most exciting upcoming offerings."

Mr. Ballmer is also eagerly awaiting the launch of Windows slates to take on the iPad.

When asked about how long he would stay with the company, he replies, "I don't know. I'm working away doing the best job I know how to do. The company continues to grow. Outside my family, this is my baby. I want to make sure that, whenever I go, the baby's in great health. It's not a baby, it must be at least a teenager by now, young adult. I want to make sure the place is in very good shape."

And apparently Mr. Ballmer has a real Facebook (though there are numerous imposter Ballmer pages -- 11 by his count).  How often does he check his Facebook?  "Every day."



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Microsoft's lack of focus
By Tony Swash on 9/30/2010 10:40:21 AM , Rating: -1
This short article is an interesting comment on Balmer's interview.

http://www.brianshall.com/content/steve-ballmer-le...

Here is a quote from it

quote:
How much does it cost Microsoft to fight across all these different fronts? What is their platform? Windows? Office? Exchange? Bing? Zune? XBox? We shouldn't be surprised their stock has been lifeless for the past decade. They jumped into new markets, seeking growth, hoping to tie one (new) platform to one or more (old) platforms. And not a one seems best in its class anymore. In an era when customers have a choice across each of them.




RE: Microsoft's lack of focus
By amanojaku on 9/30/2010 12:13:13 PM , Rating: 5
What you call a "lack of focus" a mature company calls "diversification". To use a simple analogy, if you dig from the same well one day it will dry up. This has happened to Apple a few times.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diversification_%28ma...

The author of that article is purposely using FUD to stir up the uninformed. Either that, or he's an idiot. He asks what is MS' platform and says none of the products are best in class. MS is no different than Apple, and others (but I know you love Apple):

MS has Windows, Apple has OS X
MS has Office, Apple has iWork
MS has Exchange, Apple has MacOS X Server
MS has Bing, Apple has Spotlight (and god knows what else, it changes so often)
MS has Zune, Apple has the iPod
MS has Xbox, Apple has the iPad/iPhone/iPod

MS may not be best in class in all of them, but it is very successful in most of them, whereas Apple has two successful markets (iPhone/iPod as a music player, iPad/iPhone/iPod as a gaming device, where gaming is a secondary function). Apple has the most risk as it has fewer successful markets.


RE: Microsoft's lack of focus
By sviola on 9/30/2010 2:13:15 PM , Rating: 4
The other day you wrote a nice comment, using reason and good arguments to endorse your points. Now you come with this simple troll article.

I'm sorry, but he is wrong.

Office is the best in its class.
Windows 7 is the best in its class.
Exchange is the best in its class.
Sharepoint is the best in its clas.
Zune is the best in its class (if it is not as successful as the iPod in sales numbers it is because MS strategy for it was really bad).


RE: Microsoft's lack of focus
By Tony Swash on 9/30/10, Rating: -1
RE: Microsoft's lack of focus
By acer905 on 9/30/2010 6:54:43 PM , Rating: 2
... Bing is about to kick Yahoo out of the second place spot for search engines, and its actually rising fast. I'd call that being fairly successful.

Also, it must be noted that your primary arguement for Apple, their profit levels, are simply a result of their cult following of supporters such as yourself, who will pay any price for an object regardless of its features/specifications. This allows Apple to rake in boatloads of cash on outdated hardware, because of the "experience"


RE: Microsoft's lack of focus
By robinthakur on 10/1/2010 10:58:40 AM , Rating: 2
Tony's arguments might be biased to justify his foregone conclusion, but nothing he said is really wrong per se...the MSFT stock price duldrums over the last decade confirms that this is the market's view also.

Apple's insistence on a high profit margin for all of its devices (besides the iPad which has relatively high manufacturing costs currently and a lower profit margin) is smart business and has resulted in a miraculous ccomeback from the brink. It has also been pretty recession resistant which surprised and bizarrely annoyed many on here.

Consumer products sink or swim on how good they, how easy to use they are and how much people recommend them. Apple is clearly doing something right because they are growing and people are generally happy with their devices. Labelling it 'cultism' is equivalent to you throwing your hands up because you genuinely don't understand why their products are so successful, and that's slightly worrying. They are successful because generally people don't care about the specs, they care about a products utility. The lack of ability to understand this characterises DailyTech posters in general and terrifies MS because they don't have confidence in the strategicc leadership of Steve Balmer in the same way that Apple employees do in Steve Jobs for example (nowadays anyway!) I'm sure Balmer's style of leadership would work better if MS was actually leading in the mobile sector, the tablet sector and the search industry. To hear his blind arrogance and swagger in fields where MS aren't actually doing all that well seems pretty ridiculous.

Microsoft have a tonne of talented people, I know they do first-hand, but they do actually lack focus. Obviously there are exceptions in their product lineup such as SharePoint, Windows, Office etc. which are massively successful, best of breed products (Windows is debateable depending on your familiarity and usage) Crucially, as Tony pointed out, for certain projects over the last decade, the huge sums of capital which they invested have been squandered on vanity projects such as the Xbox, Tablet pc's Zune, Search, their whole Live strategy, Kin, Bing and various other debacles (Vista comes prominently to mind...)

Whilst the Xbox has sold millions, and that particular brand has now finally turned a meagre profit for three years (considering the billions of dollars invested), the Entertainment and Devices division still operates at a heavy loss overall which is why Robbie Back et al were given their marching orders.

Obviously Bing is still being promoted heavily and MS is doing deals to make it the default search tool on a variety of devices, but the concept of it or Yahoo catching up to Google globally is a long shot I'm sure even they would agree.


"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer














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