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Summary:

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, should just stay away from predicting the success of consumer-focused products. He was wrong about iPod and was even more wrong about Apple’s iPhone. And now he is dismissing Google’s Android Operating System and the devices (including phones) that are likely […]

Steve BallmerSteve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, should just stay away from predicting the success of consumer-focused products. He was wrong about iPod and was even more wrong about Apple’s iPhone. And now he is dismissing Google’s Android Operating System and the devices (including phones) that are likely to use that OS. “I don’t really understand their strategy. Maybe somebody else does,” he quipped at a meeting down in Australia.

What’s there to understand, Steve? It is simple. It is free, and it is meant to eat Windows Mobile for lunch. And, somewhere down the line, Google is praying hard that enough people use the devices to use Google search and rake in even more ad dollars — hurting Microsoft in the process. Priceless!

Microsoft has a hard time responding to free and/or iconic products, so you hear head-in-the-sand statements like what Ballmer told people Down Under. It is why they are frozen by Apple iPhone and Google Android. Like I said, Windows Mobile is starting to resemble a proverbial white elephant.

  1. Aren’t these White Elephants in extinction?

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  2. Microsoft will suddenly have an year like IBM in the 1990’s when suddenly their cashcow will get the critical mass and move elsewhere. The only difference is that IBM did not know that they were rotting and MSFT to some extent knows and hence you see Azure , Live etc getting the full attention.

    But there still exists Legacy Inertia (Steve Ballmer included) who have their base fundamentals of business tied down to the 80’s and 90’s.

    One learning from the Financial Meltdown – when your base assumptions change(like in measuring risk) , do not try to tweak your old spreadsheets and reapply the same principals. Just go back to the very basics.

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  3. @Treehugger and @Niraj

    Totally agree with you on all that. I think the Azure etc are good initiatives except they as a company do too many things that make you say meh! culture of excellence needs to make a comeback at Microsoft for the company to make a real impact. Or at least that is how I think.

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  4. agent mulder lives Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Of course, Steve is crapping on Android. Why would he endorse it (or any other competitive offering) under any circumstances unless there was some obviously huge benefit to M$FT?

    M$FT continues to miss the mark in mobile. The majority of the value in mobile isn’t in the OS per se and AAPL and RIMM (and perhaps GOOG one day) are capitalizing on M$FT’s narrow focus on the mobile OS and its weakness in all other parts of the stack. And who knows how successful the Danger acquisition will be…too little, too late, methinks.

    – agent mulder lives

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  5. I agree with Om here that Balmer is off base thinking that Android is not a threat to Win Mo but the OS being free means nothing to the end consumer. In the smartphone market you don’t buy an OS, it’s just there on the phone whether it’s Win Mo, Android or whatever.

    What sells the handsets is the key and long term viability of any platform is not the platform but the apps and utilities on it. Apple has always had a pretty stable OS but for the longest time didn’t see the love they see today. This had a lot to do with the fact that their OS had limited apps, utilities and above all, games that would work with it.

    I’ve been using Win CE and Win Mo for over a decade on PDAs and now phones and have a pretty solid idea of the apps and utilities I use and expect from my device. Seen a myriad of fly by night apps and games and I have to say, these sell mostly to the newly initiated. iPhone didn’t do it so far. When you step back and do a really hard analysis of the device, iPhone’s shortcomings with basic PDA functionality (copy paste, app switching, synching and installing without iTunes) really overshadowed the really innovative features that Apple put in.

    The open source nature of Android is why MS and Apple should be concerned. More so for Apple if you think of their restrictive nature with regard to what developers can and can’t do. I see a lot of potential from Android but I rely on my Win Mo device for personal and business use and it hasn’t shown itself as a suitable replacement so far. It’s new, give developers some time and I see myself trying it out. But only if they put it on a better looking handset. HTC puts it on their Touch Pro or Touch HD and we’re in business.

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  6. Or even culture of mediocrity like they’ve always been.

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  7. “Culture of Excellence” is not going to come back unless BillG comes back into the driving seat and Ballmer is out.
    While Bill was leading, it was Developers who had the say and these days its marketing people. Devs just do what the requirements are and walk out @ 5. Remember, Great Tech companies thrive when Engineers strive for extreme innovations.

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  8. [...] – Interesting chit chat at Giga on Ballmer’s comments — generally agreeing that he is full of [...]

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  9. I think that “Culture of Excellence” can be reffered mostly to iPhone in the smartphone market today. Android looks imature today and I think the real test here is to see the rate of imrovement that Google shows. If I have to pick up a smartphone today I would still choose iPhone/BlackBerry. I wonder if that will be my answer in 6 months from now. MS? I don’t even think about it.

    my comments at http://www.commentino.com/orim

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  10. I seriously hope for Microsoft’s sake that Steve Ballmer is putting on a brave face. Behind the scenes they should either be working painstakingly on Windows Mobile to bring it up to the standard now required by consumers or throw the entire project in the bin and focus on something else. Windows Mobile is a sinking ship unless some dramatic action is taken. The mobile industry is more competitive than ever and Microsoft simply isn’t competing.

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