Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called himself "optimistic" about Microsoft's marketplace prospects over the next 12 months, but declined to give the audience at the company's Financial Analyst Meeting any specific numbers to back his public enthusiasm. Despite considerable declines in earnings, Microsoft is positioning itself for increased revenue in the latter half of 2009 as it rolls out a number of flagship products, including Windows 7 and Office 2010.
CEO Steve Ballmer characterized himself as
cautiously optimistic about the next year, telling those assembled for the
annual Financial Analyst Meeting on July 30 that Microsoft had "great
prospects on the map."
However, Ballmer also refused to suggest any hard numbers, such as sales
guidance, to back his enthusiasm. Microsoft is betting heavily that Windows 7,
Office 2010, and other applications and platforms will help raise its revenues
heading into 2010, perhaps boosted by a tech refresh on the part of SMBs
(small-to-medium businesses) and the enterprise.
"It's the middle of a down economy," Ballmer said. "I'm not
going to sit here and give you a one-year optimistic guidance. I'm just not
going to do it. But it's not that I'm not optimistic."
Ballmer seemed intent on pumping up Microsoft's prospects despite a fresh
round of data suggesting the economy had taken its toll. On July 23, Microsoft
reported a 17 percent decline in year-over-year revenue for the fourth quarter
, earning $13.10 billion for the quarter as a combination of
flagging economy and lowered PC sales drove its revenue to nearly a billion
dollars below Wall Street estimates.
"Average PC sales are sort of down in the traditional market 16 to 18
percent," Chris Liddell, Microsoft's chief financial officer, explained
during the earnings call. However, he sounded a cautious note of optimism in PC
sales, saying that 2010 could see "a double impact of a better PC market
year-over-year and a better mix in the types of PCs we'll be selling relative
to the average selling price."
During the analysts meeting, Ballmer suggested that PC manufacturers will
roll out new ultrathin PCs that will balance netbooks' portability with larger
screens and more professing power. Implicitly, such devices could run versions
of Windows that offer Microsoft higher margins than the stripped-down versions
of Windows 7 currently intended for the netbook market.
"We want people to be able to get the advantages of lightweight
performance and be able to spend more money with us," Ballmer
Ballmer also suggested that, despite media attention that made it seem as if
Apple and Google were rapidly storming the walls of Microsoft's market share,
his company still holds a dominant position within the market.
"Apple's share, globally, cost us nothing," Ballmer said, echoing
Microsoft's increased competitive position toward the Cupertino,
Calif., company. "You can't be
high-priced. That doesn't get us to the high volume that we aspire to."