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  (Source: Reuters)
Amid low share prices, Ballmer received a chilly reception from some shareholders at their annual meeting

At Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) annual shareholder Wednesday, the company's at-times boisterous Chief Executive Steven "Steve" Ballmer brought in Microsoft's "big guns" -- former Microsoft CEO, co-founder, and tech icon Bill Gates and Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein.  But at the meeting of 450 shareholders, Mr. Ballmer did not need to enlist the help of his fellow Microsoft elite, who remained silent even as the meeting turned chilly, according to Reuters reporters in attendance.

Amid tough questions from the audience, Mr. Ballmer was candid in his assessment that Microsoft was a late-comer to the tablet game, but he told the audience in a fiery defense that he saw "nothing but a sea of upside" for Windows 8 tablets.  He comments, "We're innovating on the seam between software and hardware.  Maybe we should have done that earlier.  [But] I feel pretty good about our [current] level of innovation."

Indeed, Microsoft has some defenders in odd places.  Stephen "Steve" Wozniak, better known as the "Woz", was once a ferocious critic of Microsoft and evangelist for Apple, Inc. (AAPL), the company he co-founded.  But today he said in a recent TechCrunch interview that he fears for Apple because Microsoft has become more innovative.

Steve Ballmer
Steve Ballmer is overwhelmed with anticipation regarding his company's
prospects in the tablet market. [Image Source: Getty Images]

Others might disagree.

While Mr. Ballmer pointed optimistically to Windows Phone sales quadrupling on a year-to-year basis, the platform is still estimated to only own 2 to 4 percent of the global market, well behind Apple and market leader Google Inc. (GOOG).  While Microsoft dreams of "pulling a Google" and rising to the top of the stack, it currently is resigned to vying with embattled Research in Motion, Ltd. (TSE:RIM) for the third-place spot.

But when it came to shareholder criticism, the harshest questions came not about Microsoft's products, but rather why its share price was so low.  Indeed, Microsoft shares trade at an order of magnitude lower than their Google and Apple counterparts.  (To be fair Microsoft has significantly approximately 9 times as many shares as Apple, and 25 times as many as Google).  Apple recently passed Microsoft in market capitalization and today has a total stock value that is more than twice that of Microsoft's.

Steve Ballmer dodged the share value question, remarking, "I understand your comment... [but Microsoft has] done a phenomenal job of driving product volumes... The stock market's kind of a funny thing."

Funny indeed, but the shareholders might have been less than amused.  Mr. Ballmer did placate the critics slightly by pointing to Microsoft's $10B USD profit sharing effort which includes share buybacks and quarterly dividends.

Currently, Microsoft shares are trading at around their levels from a decade ago, having risen roughly 18 percent in 2012.  In other words, despite the criticism, shareholders should be pleased to an extent that Microsoft outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 average of an anemic 3 percent in gains.

Source: Reuters

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RE: optimistic
By retrospooty on 11/29/2012 4:18:57 PM , Rating: 3
"Google's market-share rose so quickly because their OS is FREE. It's nearly impossible to compete with free "

That is partially true. It was free and that helped, but it was mostly because it was open. You can get anything you want, vs the one phone fits all model of Apple. Up until 2012, Android was inferior, but still outselling IOS for those reasons. Now, its actually a much better OS than IOS and you can still have options, and its free.

Android advantages
- Larger Screens
- Higher resolution screens
- Better OS
- Better UI
- Prettier OS
- Better Mapping software
- Plays HD content without downscaling
- Greater than 5x4 icons
- Faster Voice search
- Photo Sphere
- Mini HDMI port
- Multi user support (for tablets)
- Flexibility in OS (Tons of Custom ROM's, etc)
- Flexibility in hardware (qwerty models, removable batteries, larger models, smaller models, high end models, mid range models, cheap models)
- Micro SD card
- Micro USB (Like every other phone made by every other manufacturer on planet Earth for the past for years, except of course, Apple)
- Plug and play as a flash drive to copy files

This list has alot to do with why Android is outselling IOS 5 to 1 and growing. iPhone just has WAY to many things missing for a high end phone.

RE: optimistic
By inighthawki on 11/29/2012 4:51:02 PM , Rating: 4
Are you seriously going to try and use "Better OS," "Better UI," and "Prettier OS" as advantages? I'm not really fan of iOS or Android any more than the other, but those are clearly subjective qualities...

You have a bunch of valid points and then discredit yourself a little bit just by adding those in there.

RE: optimistic
By retrospooty on 11/29/2012 5:02:50 PM , Rating: 2
meh... Yes, I stand by that. I cant see anyone honestly compatring Jellybean and IOS6 and thinking IOS isnt showing its age badly. Yes, its a better OS, witha better UI and it looks alot better. Absolutely.

RE: optimistic
By Cheesew1z69 on 11/29/2012 7:35:35 PM , Rating: 2
As if AppleJackWads don't use those as advantages? Are you serious?

RE: optimistic
By Nortel on 11/29/2012 6:02:32 PM , Rating: 1
How does "better OS" in ANY WAY to relate to most of what you have mentioned. Software and hardware are completely mutually exclusive, you don't have a better operating system by having a larger screen. "Plays HD content without downscaling", lets see your 1080p resolution phone...which is also HARDWARE. There are plenty of Android phones that are garbage and don't even have LTE, it goes both ways.

Most of the others are either pure opinion or make no sense. The ENTIRE F***ING market added together at ALL price points for Android outselling ONLY the iPhone... please educate me more on how your brilliant mind works.

RE: optimistic
By retrospooty on 11/29/2012 7:03:41 PM , Rating: 3
DO I really need to spell this out for you?

You dont buy an OS. You buy a smartphone that is a combination of the OS integrated with hardware working together seamlessly. The OS has to support the hardware. Android supports tons of different hardware options, where IOS supports one small tiny subset of what is available and at that it is missing many MANY features that it should be supporting. You assert that Android outsells it because its free, but that isn't at all why. It outsells it because the OS supports all of those hardware options. The list is of beneficial things that you can get with Android because the OS supports those beneficial things that the narrow closed platform lacks. The huge list of things you can get with Android that are not available with iPhone is there to help you understand why its being outsold 5 to 1. It was 2.5 to 1 with an admittely crappy Android 2.3x in 2011. in Q2 2012 it was 4 to 1 now in Q3 its 5 to 1. Now that the OS as it is is better that IOS, that gap will grow larger and larger.

Simply put, you made a comment on how Android outsold the competition because it is free. I added, no its because its open and flexible (and later, as of JellyBean, far better). All that and its free.

Now put your blinders back on and enjoy your iPhone with its lack of... everything.

RE: optimistic
By Tony Swash on 11/29/12, Rating: -1
RE: optimistic
By retrospooty on 11/29/2012 8:45:07 PM , Rating: 2
That's a very narrow view of it, and it completely ignores all the things that the iPhone lacks listed above ... but then again , look who posted it. ;).

I do agree it's not about volume of sales, it's about what you get as a consumer,and in that battle Android blows iPhone away by a huge margin. That is why the sales are so much higher.

Of course the downside of the open platform with the various hardware is that app support is more difficult, as well as ROM/OS updates. but that's just 1 small part of it, there are so many things missing from the iPhone that it's better app support just doesn't make up for it. It's not all that much better.

RE: optimistic
By TakinYourPoints on 11/29/12, Rating: 0
RE: optimistic
By JPForums on 12/3/2012 12:54:35 PM , Rating: 3
Even after the JB improvements, Android still has a LONG way to go to catch up with iOS.
Subjective. It really depends on which aspects of the phone are important to the individual in question.
I'd argue that WP8 is much closer to getting to that benchmark based on the fact that support isn't entirely in the hands of carriers
Ah, the Achilles heal of android. It is hard to call a phone open when your carrier can saddle it with software that you don't won't, remove features that you do want, and otherwise limit how you use your phone. Yes, you can root an android phone, but that makes them exactly no different than any other phone. Apple doesn't pretend to be open. Microsoft, while also closed, gives you the ability to uninstall anything the carrier adds from the phone. They don't allow Carrier IQ and similarly take issue with Verizon's remote management software that has been reported as an avenue to mine data from its customers. Google lets them do what they want and additionally lock it down so that you can't change it. They only Android phones that I would truly consider "Open" are the Google Nexus phones as they are the only ones without Carrier IQ, a plethora of locked down modifications, and the need to root your phone to get full control over it.
All that said, hardware makers are still putting inferior hardware and displays into their Android hardware.
The fact that some android phones ship with clearly inferior hardware can be considered both a disadvantage and an advantage. Using lesser hardware with lower prices puts Android phones in the reach of people who can afford or don't care to put out the extra money for better. Despite my personal leanings towards quality, I must admit there is some merit in buying cheap when your phone is completely obsoleted in 18 months or less. The disadvantage is people who don't do their homework may end up with a phone that doesn't meet their expectations. That said, if they do do their homework and put out the money, they can end up with an android handset that is similarly high end to an iPhone. Again, which is better is subjective, depending on what aspects of the phone you value more.

RE: optimistic
By bupkus on 11/29/2012 10:06:30 PM , Rating: 2
Your post of
Horace Dediu at Asymco had this to say:
is erroneous because of this
That’s an interesting snapshot of the consumption of mobile devices, but is there a pattern here?
This is not at all a snapshot of the consumption of mobile devices but of the usage of these mobile devices.

Example: I own two Android tablets and my wife an Android phone but I wouldn't do any serious shopping with one. I would use my desktop with a 23" screen, a real keyboard and a browser with maybe a dozen or more tabs. The tablet is saved for travel or for sofa time.

These reposts you selected are wordy and weak in support of convincing me my purchase of an Android device was a mistake.
If there is something else you wished to convey, to paraphrase an entertaining Youtube animation, "I don't care."

RE: optimistic
By Tony Swash on 11/30/12, Rating: 0
RE: optimistic
By bupkus on 12/1/2012 2:13:04 PM , Rating: 2
It is significant because if you are a developer, digital content provider, advertiser or peripheral maker then you are only interested customers who actually spend money.
As I stated in my previous post, I am mostly attached to my desktop computer for a number of electronic based activities. We have tablets more for entertainment and content consumption. Just because I do my purchasing on a stationary device should not conclude that I make no purchases online. If businesses now decide to diminish the importance of desktop shoppers they do so at their own peril.
Sure, I understand the move to mobility but there is a crowd of baby boomers who are just beginning to find comfort in spending online, removing the need to drive, find parking, walk through huge mall parking facilities searching for that store they seek.
But, I do get your point about developers who develop exclusively for mobile devices. That, however, did not appear in my original post and is of little concern to me. To others who must weigh the comparative strengths of mobile devices it is highly pertinent.

Just why more iPad/iPhone users spend more online may indicate that many purchased these devices in lieu of a desktop or laptop device, now seeing those as unnecessary to their needs. I think the ratio of iPad and iPhone to Apple's laptop and desktop sales support my theory. This however will not be proved without knowing how many iPad/iPhone users made their change from PCs to mobile Apple devices bypassing Apple's less mobile offerings.

RE: optimistic
By JPForums on 12/3/2012 1:54:10 PM , Rating: 1
Consider: in the following areas iOS (which sells less units) is a better platform than Android (which sells more).

advertising revenue; ... profitability; ... content revenue; control of the platform; ... lock-in; loyalty; monetization; profits to developers; ... repeat customers; retention; ... trust
You do realize that these are benefits for Apple and devs, not the consumer. If anything, the fact that Apple is able to monetize your purchase so well says that they are better at milking their customers. Good reason to invest in Apple. Bad reason to purchase Apple.
culture; demographics; ... popularity with teens;
Seriously? You're going after the culture of the teenage demographic as an advantage. Popularity in the teenage crowd moves as chaotically as dust in the wind.

If the higher third party developer profits resulted in a preponderance of superior apps that appealed to the majority of users and was available only on iOS, you might have a point. As it is, most of the common apps are multi-platform. There are some exclusives, but that goes both ways.

So the majority of your points boil down to "Apple is better because my teenage cousin/daughter/nephew thinks its cool and I like giving more money to Apple and App developers". Some of you points (Engagement) don't even make sense (Are you talking about the guy who tried to marry his iPhone?). Some are flat out wrong in my experience (re-sale value). Have you tried selling your iPhone to get the latest iPhone. People I've dealt with won't pay jack because it is no longer the latest one and that makes it suddenly worthless to them. In fact, you could throw fastest new release adoption in your list of good for Apple things.

Point of interest: there is an argument that could be made for the advantages of iOS with consumers, but you are so Apple centric that you've buried them under a pile of what's good for Apple. I can't help but think that you have some vested interest in Apple's well being as I simply can not otherwise resolve why Apple's benefit at the detriment of their consumers should be considered advantageous to their consumers. Nonetheless, these are the "advantages" you've presented.

RE: optimistic
By Nortel on 11/29/2012 8:55:26 PM , Rating: 2
So to apply your logic, Windows is better than OSX because Windows supports a ton of different hardware options.

Android was adopted by the industry because it was free. HTC, Samsung, Motorola, T-mobile, etc... all jumped on board because it meant both not having to develop their own OS and to instantly have access to the appstore. Customers bought into Android for a whole bunch of reasons, none of which are because it is free (why would the customer care). Here are some of the reasons:

-Android phones are available in many different hardware configurations (large/small screen, processor, LTE, etc...)
-Available in many different price points
-Wanted something that was like the iPhone but hate Apple
-A few people like the open source aspect but most people don't even know what that means

RE: optimistic
By retrospooty on 11/29/2012 11:02:45 PM , Rating: 2
don't try to apply logic, that's not your strong point. that is not it at all, you completely don't get it.

I do agree that may be why the various makers adopted Android, but it's become much more. As of now it's a better OS even hardware aside. But I will give you this... If you see the small difference in app support as more important than the dozen+ items on that list than the iPhone is a good phone for you. It does work well with what features it has and is plenty fast.

RE: optimistic
By Akrovah on 11/30/2012 4:10:54 PM , Rating: 2
...Windows is better than OSX because Windows supports a ton of different hardware options.

Why yes. This is actually one of the major reasons why Windows is supperior to OSX. Freedom of hardware choice.

RE: optimistic
By piroroadkill on 11/30/2012 7:42:43 AM , Rating: 2
I thought the SIII alone outsold the iPhone 5?

RE: optimistic
By Tony Swash on 11/30/12, Rating: 0
RE: optimistic
By Akrovah on 11/30/2012 4:13:51 PM , Rating: 3
There are plenty of Android phones that are garbage and don't even have LTE,

This is actually a good thing. Different levels of hardware at different pricepoints for different customers with different needs.

Garbage to you or me could be the difference between smart phone or no smartphone for someone else.

Apple's one size fits all mentality is insulting and leads to a "haves" and "have nots" situation.

RE: optimistic
By TakinYourPoints on 11/29/12, Rating: -1
RE: optimistic
By TakinYourPoints on 11/29/12, Rating: -1
RE: optimistic
By Solandri on 11/30/2012 4:51:48 AM , Rating: 4
That's a gross mischaracterization of what the stats say. Net Applications and W3Counter are the two web metrics which show iOS with a big lead over Android (about 3:1 to 4:1). But they normalize for unique visitors - if a device visits a website 10 times in a month, it only counts as 1 visit. They also sample only 40,000 and 50,000 sites respectively to determine their stats.

The big metric is StatCounter, which samples over 3 million sites so is much more reliable than the first two. And they actually show Android ahead (since early 2012).

However, StatCounter doesn't normalize for unique visitors. So while a much larger percentage of iOS users browse the web with their devices, they don't really do much web browsing. The smaller percentage of Android users who do browse the web actually do more browsing than all the iOS users combined (about 3-4 times more people).

So Android is selling primarily to both feature phone users and hardcore users (high-end set buyers). I'd say iOS is selling primarily to the feature phone users too, it's just that the higher price of the iPhone/iPad compared to Android devices compels them to occasionally use their browser to justify the purchase price in their minds.

Your assertion that iOS dominates high-end handsets doesn't make sense when you consider that sales of just a single model high-end Android phone (the Galaxy S3) come close to the iPhone.

RE: optimistic
By alcalde on 11/29/2012 10:16:51 PM , Rating: 2
>...and if you want to bolster the 5:1 difference in marketshare based
>on low end hardware sold to the poor and in third-world countries,
>then be my guest.

Governor Romney? Is that you?

RE: optimistic
By TakinYourPoints on 11/29/12, Rating: -1
RE: optimistic
By retrospooty on 11/29/2012 11:05:00 PM , Rating: 2
That and the dozen+ other things on the list you ignore.

Also, the iPhone is the best model for bezel fans ;)

RE: optimistic
By TakinYourPoints on 11/29/12, Rating: 0
RE: optimistic
By retrospooty on 11/30/2012 7:24:53 AM , Rating: 2
"Don't try and infer that Android's high marketshare equates to the same level of hardware being sold as on the iOS side, it isn't."

Yes, on the high alone end it IS outselling IOS. The GS3 did it alone in the last quarter, and that is but one high end model, of course now its 6 months old and better things are out... But anyhow, I do agree, its not about sales #'s, its about what you get as a consumer, after all we each buy 1 phone to use (for the most part). On that front buying a high end Android gives you more. Not just a little more, alot more. If you dont care about the dozen+ things on that list, the iPhone is a great phone though. It's also the best phone for users that dont know anything about tech and dont want to learn.

RE: optimistic
By TakinYourPoints on 12/1/2012 7:58:48 PM , Rating: 2
The GS3 took twice as long to sell 30 million units as the iPhone 4S, and it outsold the iPhone 4S when it was almost a year old and was about to be replaced.

Logic dude, use it.

On that front buying a high end Android gives you more. Not just a little more, alot more

Weak battery life, sketchy to non-existent update support, slower SoC, inferior screen quality, fewer quality apps.

Yup, Android gets you so much more! A USB plug, MMM, amazing!

RE: optimistic
By TakinYourPoints on 11/29/2012 11:52:21 PM , Rating: 1
- Micro USB (Like every other phone made by every other manufacturer on planet Earth for the past for years, except of course, Apple)

Yup, standard:

Slightly off-topic, I have micro-USB on my Kindle. If Apple would license Lightning out to other companies then I'd swap it out with micro-USB in a second, it is so much more durable and sturdy. I didn't think that a worse connector than HDMI could come out but micro-USB proved me wrong.

RE: optimistic
By robinthakur on 11/30/2012 5:50:27 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree with most of your points which are not facts. Alot of them are simply not relevent to 99.9% of the market like the icons and the upscaled content. I own a Galaxy 3 international and an iPhone 5 and 9/10 I leave the house with the iPhone unless I need to use offline maps. The reason is very simple and not something you mention, funnily enough, which is quality and availability of decent apps.

Certainly the Android option would be credible, if the apps I want were available and were as performant and looked as good as on the iPhone. In terms of reasons behind that, you need only look at the way Apple's platform does not have the variety of hardware either Android or RIM and the fact that Apple constantly push the margins in terms of GPU with every release.

Also, Android's users simply don't spend enough at the Play store otherwise devs would go where the money was, assuming ease of development etc were the same. With such a large installed base of Android users worldwide they'd be crazy not to target it as the lead platform. There is a reason they aren't generally and it is fragmentation and lack of return on investment. Personally, I only usually install free apps on Android, because I've probably spent thousands on the App Store on iOS, and am not ready to give them up or indeed to purchase them again.

The fact that the build quality and look of the iPhone is miles ahead of any other phone helps its cause, but I would always use the better platform, regardless, assuming it is better in All important respects.

The OS on iPhones is still way smoother than even Jelly Bean and far more consistent and integrated. I find the music transfer (drag and drop eurgh!) and playback on Android for example sucks balls without PowerAmp and a lock screen replacement installed, and even then, you still cannot control volume on it using the remote headset. Since the platform is soooo flexible and customisable, why on earth hasn't somebody fixed this extreme usability fubar?

Which leaves Android's advantages from your list to me personally being that

-the OS looks nice in an open source kind of way though it still struggles to hold a constant frame rate
-there is NFC (though I have not used it yet)
-the maps are way better
-the voice search is nice and
-the hand sets are cheaper (though not all of them, and there is very little resale value there)
-The phone can be used as a USB mass storage device though it isn't detected properly a large percentage of the time and I have to change the transfer mode on the phone back and forth

Apple still wins on usability, apps, smoothness, build quality, customer service and that right there is the reason I still use them. Every year when I get a new phone, I do look around and see what's available and buy a couple to try out, but since 2007, that choice has always been Apple. Were I a teen again with limited budget and with a knack for tinkering I would probably go Android, but I value the total package now and lack of hassle.

RE: optimistic
By retrospooty on 11/30/2012 7:03:40 AM , Rating: 2
Like I said above somewhere. If you don't use or need the dozen+ things that the iPhone lacks its a good choice. It's certainly fast and has better app support. For me there are just way to many "dont have's" for a high end phone.

RE: optimistic
By NellyFromMA on 11/30/2012 12:43:45 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with most of the assessment between Android and iOS at there most current stages.

I don't know of any REAL tech enthusiast advocating iOS6 or 5 over Android 4.x. Only those who are into their Mac / Apple devices in general as they (perhaps rightfully so) are really into the synchronization between all their devices. This is where I think MS will really see synergy also and I think both camps are heading in the right direction in that regard.

I think Android's success is equal parts right place right time, Openness (not in terms of the OS being open source, because I actually think that's a glaring weakness personally. rather, that app developers have open access to develop for the platform), and search / data agrregation dominance in terms of business model.

It's going to take some time, but I do personally think MS has more to offer here inthe long run though. What's primarily holding them back is Intel's power consumption.

What people don't realize about ARM is it really isn't all that suited for heavy work loads. Any quickness you see in your apps is LARGELY due to the fact most of the business logic for the apps is done on server-backends that are (obviously) significantly more powerful than the ARM devices (and, 9/10 times Intel powered).

The carrot here is that Intel promises next generation is the best generation for power consumption, putting it at leevels already accepted by the majority of smartphone consumers. Sadly, a little more than a third of MS's success hinges on whether or not Intel delivers in that regard.

ARM is great for light consumption as the world has already established. As for an x86 killer, it simply won't happen in the next decade and I'd be surprised if it even has a chance to.

As Arm attempts to optimize and become more robust, Intel becomes more efficent power-wise. There are an extremely select few apps for your phones natively written in a way where they require ARM, largely because most of the work is done on servers.

Just my observation anyways.

"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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