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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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RE: Search?
By Tony Swash on 9/30/2010 12:00:02 PM , Rating: -1
Google was born from a highly competitive environment. They buried a dozen successful competitiors on the way to the top.

Microsoft has never really competed on an open playing field. They were 'given' the OS monopoly when they cut a deal with IBM. They used that monopoly to undermine Lotus and wordperfect and force their office products on the masses since they integrated into Windows best. Do you really think it was magic that made Microsoft's office products function in the Windows environment better? Microsoft crushed Netscape by bundling Explorer. Novell was beaten by leveraging the desktop OS against the server environment. Microsoft is all about an 'unfair' playingfield. They fail in markets that they can't dominate with their default monopoly. They did fine with portable devices as long as they depended on syncing with the desktop. Once mobile devices freed themselves from the home computer their marketshare plummeted.

Kin is just a great example of their arrogance. They wanted the market to buy what they liked, but the mobile market is not a hostage like the Windows market is. There were far better products available so nobody bought it. The same thing will happen with Phone 7, but probably not so rapidly. The only obvious benefits of the device are the attachments to old Microsoft monopolies - editing Office documents and X-box Live integration. Apple and Google are going to destroy them.

I agree

I read the entertaining book "Barbarians Led by Bill Gates" by Jennifer Edstrom and Marlin Eller (Eller from 1982 to 1995 was lead Microsoft programmer on Windows graphics and worked on other key Windows development areas) and what is striking by this inside account is just how strategically incoherent and fragemented MS is internally. They stumbled by luck into a game winning hand, played a couple of rounds brilliantly, were faced with utterly incompetent competitors, nearly fucked things up several times, used ruthlessness instead of creativity and find themselves a long way up shit creek without a paddle.

Couldn't happen to nicer bunch,

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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