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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 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.

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs

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