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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 Tony Swash on 11/30/2012 7:38:07 AM , Rating: 0
quote:
These reposts you selected are wordy and weak in support of convincing me my purchase of an Android device was a mistake.


I think you may have misunderstood the point I was making. I was not trying to convince anyone that they had made a mistake buying an Android device, that would be silly as buying preferences are personal and what phone, computer, car or game console you buy are all individual choices and people can make wildly different purchasing decisions all of which are perfectly legitimate and sensible for them.

The point I was making was about how one understands the strengths and weaknesses of the different device platforms, how those strengths and weaknesses relate to market share of units shipped and how those platform strengths and weaknesses relate to the commercial profile of each platform as a platform for business activity. The latter is important because the longevity and sustainability of a platform seems to be closely tied to the overall commercial strength of it's ecosystem and if a platform does not offer commercial opportunities of at least a minimum level then no matter how technically good it is it will probably not prosper and will probably wither (WP8 phone is a good example).

quote:
This is not at all a snapshot of the consumption of mobile devices but of the usage of these mobile devices.


That is a semantic point about the choice of words in the Asymco article. No one is disputing that Android devices, in all their wild and wonderful diversity, are outselling iOS devices but the point is that it is very significant if each of those Android devices is only being used to click on a fraction of the ads compared to an iOS device, or is used to shop online for a fraction of the time compared to an iOS device, or is only being used to to buy a fraction of the apps, peripherals or digital content compared to an iOS device. 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. Android users make lousy customers, they only engage in a tiny proportion of the activity of an average iOS customer. The number of units sold becomes a poor indicator of how to arrange one's business priorities if it takes a developer ten Android users to sell the same as to one iOS user.

And that is not a snap shot, it has been the pattern ever since both iOS and Android emerged.

Even for OEMs selling more units appears to be a significantly worse business than Apple's iOS device business.

Asymco has just posted an additional and interesting piece of research which shows how Samsung has had to spend a truly vast amount of money, £12 billion dollars spent in the last year, advertising and marketing it's devices in order to compete with Apple. The comparative figures in the article convincingly demolishes the notion that the success of Apple is simply because of marketing, it turns out Apple spends less than most of the other big players and is at the bottom of the table when it comes to marketing spend.

http://www.asymco.com/2012/11/29/the-cost-of-selli...


RE: optimistic
By bupkus on 12/1/2012 2:13:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
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.


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