Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is disappointed with Google and it has nothing (at least publicly) to do with the search giant's opposition to a possible Yahoo-Microsoft merger. Ballmer, speaking at the American Electronics Association's annual dinner in downtown Washington, jabbed his rival by saying "search technology hasn't changed a lot over five years."
That's right, Google: the non-innovation company, at least as Ballmer sees it. Better software would make for better searches, Ballmer said. Better search, he added, would juice advertising sales for everyone.
Ballmer's appearance on a night that thunderstorms ripped through the city was typical performance by the Microsoft honcho: a high-energy speech that randomly flitted from one subject to another.
As for Microsoft's so far unsuccessful efforts to buy Yahoo, Ballmer said it was all about accelerating "our move to get scale in online advertising. We are trying to give good competition to the market leader in that category. We think that this will be an important part of how the media business shakes out."
According to Ballmer, if there is real competition in online advertising, "media producers will get paid a fair return from advertising." If not, "[media producers] will end up having to think about that in a different way."
That was it for the Yahoo deal, but Ballmer was hardly done, launching into riffs on the future of software, cloud computing and just about anything else that seemed to cross his mind.
In the future, Ballmer predicted, "Everything you need will be delivered on an IP network. The ability to find and analyze information will go up an order of magnitude." That's as opposed to today: "Really searching deeply, picking up information and being able to assemble it is still pretty hard to do."
As for software, it will come from what Ballmer called the "Internet cloud."
Outside, in the real world, clouds brought nothing but torrential rains.