CEO Steve Ballmer tells the audience at Microsoft's annual Financial Analyst Meeting that the company is in a strong position to fend off competitors such as Apple and Google. Ballmer also suggests that ultrathin PCs rolling out later in 2009 will present Microsoft with additional revenue opportunities.
CEO Steve Ballmer took the opportunity of
his annual Financial Analyst Meeting July 30 to defend his company and lash
back at opponents such as Apple.
"We are going to come under attack," Ballmer said, characterizing
Microsoft as "deserving" of its increased competition.
However, Ballmer was quick to point out to analysts that Microsoft
and Windows remain strong in the market despite the recession and industry
challengers. Indicating that he had taken note of the number of Macs in use by
the audience, he joked: "Feel free, as long as you're using Office."
Apple's gains in the hardware arena, he insisted, did not threaten
Microsoft's market share.
"Apple's share, globally, cost us nothing," Ballmer told those assembled.
"You can't be high-priced. That doesn't get us to the high volume that we
In an echo of July's Worldwide Partner Conference, Ballmer argued that
Microsoft's new ad campaign, which focuses on the relative inexpensiveness of
Windows PCs, was having its intended market effect. A chart labeled
"Windows Ads Are Working" claimed more 18-to-24-year-olds are deciding
that Microsoft products offer the best value over Apple; the graph had
Microsoft with roughly a 42 percent "value" share in May, one month
after the Microsoft ads started running, versus Apple at 14 percent.
Ballmer also took aim at Google, which dominated the news earlier in July
with the announcement of its Google
Chrome OS, a browser-based operating system designed for cheap mininotebooks
or netbooks and scheduled to roll out in 2010.
"I don't know what Chrome OS is yet," Ballmer told the audience.
"We have competitors who say they believe in thin clients. What they
are really saying is they believe in the browser operating system," he
added. "But don't think there is some magic technology, [a] revolutionary
thing that they believe in differently."
Indeed, much of Ballmer's speech seemed to center on a belief that the
high-powered PC, with an operating system residing on its hard drive, will
continue to be the way of the future-despite Microsoft's implicit embrace of
the cloud-based model in initiatives such as Office 2010.
In that vein, Ballmer took aim at netbooks, which many analysts and industry
pundits have seen as eating away at Microsoft's operating system margins.
Insisting that customers want bigger screens, Ballmer said new ultrathin PCs
would roll out later in 2009 that will provide lightweight computing at presumably
a higher cost-and that could very well run versions of Microsoft's upcoming
Windows 7 that offer the company higher margins.
"We want people to be able to get the advantages of lightweight
performance and be able to spend more money with us" as well as various
manufacturers, Ballmer said.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.