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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Steve Ballmer shows Ina Fried his "delightful user interface".  (Source: CNET)
Microsoft chief disses on Apple's strategy, but begrudgingly praises its tablet success

If there was one party ideally poised to deride, mock, or otherwise belittle Apple's strategy, it would be Google who is surpassingng Apple in terms of smartphone growth.  However, Google has for the most part taken the higher road.  

Microsoft, on the other hand, is on much more tenuous footing, with its own mobile market share in shambles and its hopes solely pinned on this month's launch of Windows Phone 7 (next month for U.S. customers).  That didn't stop its CEO Steve Ballmer from ripping into his Cupertino rival in a recent question and answer session with Ina Fried, writer of 
CNET's "Beyond Binary" column.

In the video interview Fried asks Mr. Ballmer about why Microsoft is forcing Windows Phone 7 partners to adopt a minimum hardware spec.  Fried presses Mr. Ballmer on whether this limits choices.  

Mr. Ballmer replies, "I think you clearly have a lot more variety than Apple has. There's really only one choice in the Apple world.  I think the problem, if you don't have a minimum kind of standard […] the brand means nothing to the user. Our brand means something to the user. It means something to the developer. It implies a certain level of consistency and high quality, which I think is important for the Windows Phone."

Mr. Ballmer, who has in the past derisively compared Macs to Mac Trucks and said that Apple users pay $500 extra for a logo, did begrudgingly admit that his fruity foe is doing exceptionally well in the tablet sector.  He comments, "You certainly see more. You certainly see more than I would like. One is more than I would like."

Despite recent studies that show the iPad to be cannibalizing users' PC time, Mr. Ballmer is confident that the tablet will not replace the PC.  He states, "Certainly someone who wants to sit and do an interview and take notes and scroll around, they are unlikely to find that device very comfortable. It doesn't stand up on its own. It doesn't have a big screen and keyboard. I'm not taking anything away from what Apple has done and certainly we have our work cut out for us."

Mr. Ballmer refused to answer questions on how Microsoft might match Apple's instant-on iPad capability and the device's long battery life.  He would only say that you would see tablets "essentially around the holiday", a little bit of an ambiguous statement, to say the least.  He was full of optimism and enthusiasm, though, about Windows Phone 7.  

After be docked part of his bonus for the failure of the Kin smartphone line, Mr. Ballmer is convinced the new OS will be a hit with customers.  He comments, "I think we're moving fast. We've got to see how the market responds. I think we are going to get great response to the new Windows Phones and that's the key. If we get that done and we keep up the pace of good work that we are doing, I feel pretty good."

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short attention span
By superPC on 10/13/2010 11:13:40 AM , Rating: 4
sometimes i think the only problem microsoft face is how to effectively market their technology. they make most of the breakthrough that apple and google recently claimed to be theirs (touch screen friendly interface come to UMPC first in the form of project origami from MS , even before ipod touch launched, microsoft had been pushing tablet since windows xp days, MS invested in web tv a decade ago, to mention a few). but i rarely saw MS heavily advertising its capability. even WMC which is incredibly polished rarely got advertised. when they do create hype, the thing didn't even got to market (courier, although IMHO MS OneNote can already do all the stuff the courier can do if you have a camera in hand).

it's a good thing MS never have an advertising team as good as apple. if it does, it might end up ruling the world...

RE: short attention span
By Tony Swash on 10/13/10, Rating: -1
RE: short attention span
By Luticus on 10/13/10, Rating: 0
RE: short attention span
By superPC on 10/13/2010 11:42:47 AM , Rating: 1
better is such a relative term. in my mind apple never build a better product than MS. MS product always have been the more powerful, more compatible, more customizable than anything apple has ever build. and in my mind that's the definition of better.

although no argument that apple do make a more polished product. but polished doesn't equal better.

too bad in today society people care more about looks and polish than versatility.

RE: short attention span
By acer905 on 10/13/2010 12:24:43 PM , Rating: 2
How do they come out with something that is better or cheaper than the iPad that doesn't undermine their core products which is Windows desktop?

Auto-load WMC in full screen mode. It's already a fantastic interface for tablet devices. Or create a different overlay. Just because something has a touch screen doesn't mean it should only be designed for touch interface, especially if it has Bluetooth connectivity or a USB port.

RE: short attention span
By YerMomma on 10/13/2010 6:49:55 PM , Rating: 2
WMC seems like a good idea, but it's tacked onto Windows XP or Windows 7, neither of which are capable of running on a tablet with decent battery life, or without a massive CPU to power it as well. Full blown Windows is simply not an option when it comes to anything mobile because it's become so bloated.

RE: short attention span
By clovell on 10/13/2010 12:53:16 PM , Rating: 1
Okay, Swash - but Zune trounces the iPod - hardware, software, library, and all.

RE: short attention span
By clovell on 10/14/2010 12:49:09 PM , Rating: 2
If someone disagrees, then speak up. The only reason that Zune hasn't stolen more marketshare is advertising.

RE: short attention span
By Pirks on 10/14/2010 1:15:36 PM , Rating: 2
lack of apps/games too

RE: short attention span
By jvillaro on 10/13/2010 3:08:17 PM , Rating: 2
The Windows phones were crap, and Apple made a better product and crushed it.

Why do you keep saying this? You generaly try to make a point based on some kind of facts and information that give you some credit. But that makes you sound too fanboish... and stupid.

We all know by now that the iPhone crushed everything else when it came out and matured. Thats ok, I can give Apple credits for that and I can say that Microsoft dropped the ball, got lazy and stupid and lost it's marketshare.

Windows Mobile phones were not crap. Far from it. It just got old and impracticle from a average consumers point of view. But for other types of user it was a workhorse and the only real alternative. We're talking that the iPhone has only 3 years in the market. How much time has the windows mobile (Well actually Windows CE OS) been out? It was intended to give a computer like experience in a hand held device. It had its flaws we all know them, but it was very advanced for its time, even being one of the only real "real time" OS. Now a days it suffers in comparison because they just didn't keep up with the times and thats MS fault.

RE: short attention span
By stimudent on 10/13/2010 3:01:54 PM , Rating: 1
It's nice to see that the world has changed very suddenly and not in a nice way for Microsoft and Intel.
It's like that line in Star Wars - the tighter your grip, the more [whatever] will slip through your fingers.

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