Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shared his mind with listeners at the Web 2.0 Summit on Wednesday -- and the technology world is still talking about it. Ballmer offered his views on everything from Windows Phone to Yahoo to Google.
As Laura DiDio, principal analyst at ITIC, sees it, the Web 2.0 Summit featured vintage Ballmer: frank and pulling no punches. Whether or not people agree or disagree with Ballmer, she said, he never leaves any doubt as to where he stands on various issues.
Hindsight is 20/20
Ballmer seemed relieved that Microsoft didn't wind up acquiring Yahoo. In 2008, Redmond maneuvered a $44.6 billion takeover of the search-engine company.
When moderator John Battelle, co-founder of Wired magazine, asked Ballmer point-blank whether he was glad the company didn't buy Yahoo, Ballmer laughed and replied: "You know, times change. When you ask any CEO after the market has fallen apart, it's 'hallelujah.' " Ballmer also said, "Sometimes you are lucky."
With respect to Yahoo, DiDio didn't get the impression that Ballmer was referring to the company in a pejorative manner. Rather, she believes he meant that the purchase price of $40 billion, which would have occurred after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, would have put Microsoft in a tricky financial situation and one Ballmer is glad he sidestepped in 20/20 hindsight.
"Ballmer can hardly be faulted for that opinion," DiDio said. "I do think that Microsoft does value its partnership with Yahoo because it bolsters the position of both companies, which are decided underdogs, lagging way behind Google's market share in the search-engine market."
Biting Android, Apple
Ballmer went on the offensive against Google. "You need to be a computer scientist" to use Android, he said. DiDio said Ballmer's barbed criticism of Google's Android in those terms is exactly what you would expect him to say about a competitor. She found his comments reserved and restrained.
"Ditto for his oblique reference to Apple's products which he mentioned by saying they were presented in a 'sea of icons.' Many people undoubtedly feel that Ballmer's comments are a mixture of envy and sour grapes, and they would not be wholly inaccurate," DiDio said. "In fact, Ballmer's strategy has always been to shoot from the lip: He gets a lot more press when he disparages his rivals instead of praising them."
Why Windows Phone 7?
Ballmer also put in a few good words for Windows Phone. Battelle asked why consumers should buy a Windows Phone instead of an iPhone. His response: Windows Phone 7 puts your own information front and center.
"One thing he said that I found intriguing was that Microsoft needs to do more to drive down the price of mobile devices. I would like to see Ballmer expound on that and provide a detailed strategy and product roadmap for doing that," DiDio said.
"I also want to hear more specifics on the Skype product rollouts and integration with Microsoft's software offerings. I think Microsoft's acquisition of Skype could yield big dividends for them if done correctly."
Posted: 2011-10-26 @ 7:19pm PT
Hype? Apple is on track to sell 90 million copies of their "hype" in 2011 and more than 115 million in 2012. And they're delivering the whole phone. Microsoft may sell 26 million copies of the Windows Phone OS in 2011 and, if the Nokia deal holds true, may sell 65 million in 2012. Seems like Apple's "hype" is convincing a few people.
Posted: 2011-10-20 @ 12:50am PT
What Ballmer said was 100% truth. Android is a hacker friendly OS. iPhone 4S and Siri is just a hype. Windows phone 7.5 mango is the future.