On Android [Updated]

Demonstrating the value of openness and broad support from partners:

In terms of openness and broad support we’ve done very well… Literally available on over 150 different handsets. It’s available from over one hundred different mobile operators around the world. We will probably license about 20 million devices this year which is really quite dramatic at least among smartphone systems. So we have great momentum. We’ve brought [a new version] to market. We’re driving forward on our future releases. We’ll have to see what [the competition] does. Right now they have a press release […] We have many many millions of customers, great software, many hardware devices and they’re welcome in our world.

Inspired by a tweet from Charles Arthur.


The quote is Steve Ballmer speaking in 2007 soon after the announcement of Android and in response to a question of what he thought about Android. The source video is here.

  • ______

    All of Steve B's comments are already part of the business hall of fame. Will there be another Android that eats Android like Android did WIndows? Guess we'll find out in a few years.

    • hamranhansenhansen

      The non-Google Android is a good candidate for eating the Google Android.

      Oracle Android?

      • ExGoogler

        by the time oracle lawsuit gets decided, android will be on 2 billion devices. Interesting times ahead.

  • Nicu

    If I understand correctly they hope to activate 20M Android phones this year ? That is about what the iPhone will do this quarter … please enlighten me if there's a catch !

    • rattyuk

      Nicu… It was a quote from Ballmer from 2007. The video can be seen here:

      • FalKirk

        Horace, I know what you're trying to do, but I'll reveal my ignorance and admit that your post was too subtle for me. Like Nicu, I did not at all understand that this was a dated Steve Balmer quote. I think you need to provide a signature and a date or at least a link to allow those of us who are a little slow to get your inside joke.

      • asymco

        Sorry about that. I updated the post with a link.

  • kikikai

    The catch is that this is Steve Ballmer talking about Windows Mobile when it was still relevant. Android is activating 350000 per day.

    • Abhi Beckert

      If they are activating 350,000 per day then that would be over 127 million phones this year. And that's assuming they have *zero* growth in their daily activations.

      That's quite a bit more than their 20 million estimate for this year. Clearly the 350,000 per day figure is fudging the numbers somehow. Maybe that was a black friday spike or something?

      • George Bailey

        I don't think they ever estimated 20 million. that "quote" above is play on Steve Ballmer's comments in 2007.

      • hamranhansenhansen

        20 million in 2007 numbers is 100 million today. It’s the same chunk of the smartphone market, in 2007 with Windows Mobile and today with Android. The point is Windows Mobile 2007 equals Android 2011. Android ate Windows Mobile.

    • Windows Mobile was relevant? 🙂

      • asymco

        Very much so. There was nearly universal agreement among analysts that Windows Mobile would become the dominant mobile platform. As Ballmer suggests they were growing rapidly and had won nearly every device vendor's business and nearly every operator's distribution. In fact, the only vendor they did not get was Nokia.

  • Robbo

    I almost feel sorry for Balmer. Almost.

  • Iosweeky

    Can anyone tell me if Microsoft has changed its business model with windows phone 7?

    Are they still charging a license fee or are they relying on revenue from bing search and app store sales instead?

    Or is it a confused mixture of both approaches?

    Anyone know the answer or is it unknown?

    • asymco

      Microsoft has not changed its business model with Windows Phone 7. There is a (significant) license fee.

      • kwyj

        I think the "balanced money flows" that Elop is talking about, could signal a shift.

  • hamranhansenhansen

    This is why iPhone versus Android always struck me as so stupid. It’s clearly iPhone versus BlackBerry/S60 and Android versus Windows Mobile. Users that once had BlacBerry now have iPhone, and phones that once had Windows Mobile now have Android.

    I remember at the Windows Phone 7 launch, Microsoft held a mock funeral for iPhone, and then it was discovered that the photos of the event, which were taken by a Microsoft employee, were from a generic phone running Android. That said it all.

    I don’t think it will ever stop being interesting to look back to 2006/2007’s smartphone industry forecasts.

    • davel

      I am not sure if the relations you mention are true.

      Are you talking market share?

      RIM has grown revenues and I presume shipments every year. Every year has marked the end of RIM only to have them surprise the analysts and grow revenue in the face of one RIM killer or the other.

      Horace's graphs have surprised me time and again showing that RIM is one of the few companies with growth over the past few years. Nokia has shrunk, LG has shrunk, etc.

      I am not disputing that at one time RIM was the popular phone and now it is Apple/Android. I have a new RIM phone from my company and can tell you the browser is terrible. Perhaps websites are no longer spending energy re-purposing to fit RIM since the emergence of Apple and Android. You would think that in 3 years time they could build a browser that could read the website via webkit or something.

      • gctwnl

        RIM is very popular in some countries for teens because texting is essentially free.

        I also got a BB from my company and though its browser is a bit better than the WinMo 5 that went before it and messaging/calendar is good, the rest really stinks. Even the WinMo5 with stylus was a better interface for graphical interaction than the little BB trackpad. Case in point: look at playing the standard card game (klondike in english I think). With WinMo5 you at least could drag and drop a card from somewhere to somewhere else. On the BB:
        – move left right with the trackpad to the stack you want, to go up down, move beyond the border and it wraps around to the other row
        – click to select source
        – move again in the same way
        – click to select target
        This is how you do interaction on a BB. It is hopeless and I guess it is pretty impossible to produce an interactive app with a good UI for thatplatform.

        Basically, this BB phone is ok for email/texting/calendar, but not for anything else. I don't consider that a 'smart phone', it is a pretty limited feature phone with a strong messaging service provider behind it.

      • kevin

        Initially, iPhone helped RIM by raising consumer awareness of smartphones, with RIM reaching its peak market share of 19.6% for the 12 mos ending in Dec 2009. (19.6% uses combined data from Strategy Analytics, IDC, and Gartner). Since then, it has grown slower than the smartphone market, and is now down to 16.2% (for the 12 mos ending Dec 2010), and that despite letting its ASP fall all the way from $368 to $310. RIM announces on 3/24 so we'll see if they "surprise" again.

    • hoomie

      I've long held this view, too. To your point, one of the 'Highest Rated Comments' at the top states: "Personally, I am finished with my Windows Mobile Devices… Android is the way ahead !" And a preponderance of other user comments avow much the same thing.

      Also, it is telling that many Redmond employees subsequently obtained positions with Google; Vic Gundotra (ex Microsoft brand evangelist) being one of the more noted ones.

      • capnbob66

        Of course the grand total of all WinMo users in the world probably only adds up to a couple of quarters of iP4/5 sales this year. Not sure that WinMo switchers are really driving the market.

    • relentlessfocus

      My take is that it's iPhone against Motorola smart phones, LG Smartphones, Sony smartphones, HTC smartphones, RIM smartphones, HP/Palm, etc. From a $$ point of view Apple is the leading maker of smartphones as Horace so beautifully illustrated.

      The only OS war is about attracting developers and here the score card is clear as to who is winning. And of course the advertising-on-smartphones war where is Google is winning although Google earns a mere fraction of $$ from smartphone ads compared to Apple's profits from smartphones . For those who confuse team sports with smartphone sales and "root" for G or A, Google is winning the OS numbers war and Apple is winning the profits war. Unless of course you count tablets too. Ooops, there goes Google's numerical lead.

  • ObjectiveSee

    How much is Windows 7 license fee?

  • Objective See

    Windows Phone 7 license fee

    • asymco

      There have been consistent rumors that it's $15 per phone. That may vary quite a bit depending on volume or other conditions.

      • CndnRschr

        And whether you are Nokia in which case the license fee is "offset" by a $1 billion credit…..

        I haven't yet fathomed who is the biggest loser in that deal. Nokia or Microsoft or both.

      • asymco

        Not trying to sound flippant here, but both were losers coming into the deal. The deal did not change that situation much.

  • @jammypup

    What’s interesting to me, apart from the fact that Android has turned into windows mobile 6.x, is that the corporatenumbersspeak flowing from Ballmers mouth used to be lapped up by wall street, the tech media, and corporations buying enterprise IT. Today, as many others have said, it is not about the numbers, the specs, the range of licensees, the stats etc. It’s about the holistic experience of the, yes, ecosystem.

    Google’s approach to selling Android, as Asymco is hinting, is very similar to this late 90’s thru late noughties corpthink that msft was encumbered with.

    • kevin

      I don't really have a problem with Ballmer touting the numbers. Apple and Google tout big numbers as well.

      What Ballmer misses is recognizing the factors that led to those numbers and whether that makes them sustainable or not. One recent example of articulating a factor would be Jobs' brief exposition on the post-PC environment.

  • newtonrj

    Does anyone see Balmer channeling Charlie Sheen in that vid? -RJ

  • kevin

    Ballmer thought he had "great software," as he failed to see that his software had already been obsoleted in January by iPhone.
    Ballmer thought his "150 different handsets" or "many hardware devices" would provide ample consumer choice, and ensure MS didn't miss any market segment, but failed to see that all those hardware devices were running the same obsoleted software.
    Ballmer thought his "millions of customers" were sticky (or stuck), like they had been with desktop Windows, but failed to see iPhone had just put smartphones on a consumer-driven, not IT-driven, path.

    That said, neither Nokia nor RIM recognized what had changed in 2007.

  • RobDK

    Hilarious video – also for the Symbian boss’s comments! Certainly puts the Nokia-Microsoft merger into perspective!

  • Funny how whatever he said about Windows Mobile can also be said about Android today. And we know how WM ended…

    As soon as the "new" mobile OS comes out and gets some buzz, Android will be discarded just like WM was.

  • Ziad Fazel

    I was working for Nortel when he famously laughed at the iPhone, using much the same reasoning. I laughed back for 2 reasons:
    – the false bravado about the relative competitiveness of iPhone and WinMo
    – the great hopes both Nortel and Microsoft put into their partnership

    It was hard remaining motivated and above cynical in Nortel those days. I don't envy the employees of other companies in the PC or smartphone worlds who are seeing their employer or platform decimated by new competitors, and not having enough management strength or product value to compete.

  • I love the Android devices pictured at the end of the video

  • kevin

    I know that your post was intended to show that Android is like WinMo, but is it? I made two points earlier that WinMo was obsolete and wasn't sticky, Android might only fail on the latter.
    – Overall, Android is an okay copy of iOS; it's at least in the same ballpark. Despite several issues, Its users are fairly satisfied, much higher than the obsoleted non-touch OSes (Symbian, WinMo, BB) and in the same cluster with iOS.
    – Android is focused on consumers, but it isn't very sticky. It doesn't have much in paid content sales, nor does it have a simple PC sync process that encourages people to stay with it. Its cloud sync allows people to move without too much trouble. The handset models come and go (and leapfrog) very quickly, so there's little brand loyalty.

    So I think it's still an open question whether Android will go the way of WinMo, although other issues not faced by WinMo may push it that way (fragmentation, lack of timely upgrades, malware, patents, brand tainted by poor quality, etc).

    • asymco

      I would not suggest that Android will go the way of Windows Mobile, but the fact remains that the key selling points of the sustainability of Android are the same key selling points Ballmer listed above.

      This means that there is no *guarantee* that Android is sustainable if (or more likely when) a dramatic market disruption occurs (again). Both Windows Mobile and Symbian (and perhaps Blackberry OS) evaporated rapidly even though they claimed they had unassailable leadership positions.

      • ExGoogler

        maybe so, but there is no company on the market which can out innovate Google today. Certainly not Apple or Facebook, we have to see if disruption comes from some other source(like two guys starting out from a garage) and google has not claimed anything that they won or anything.

      • asymco

        Would it not be innovative if a company offered all that Google offers without burdening users with advertising? I'd like to see Google innovate in that direction.

  • @ExGoogler

    In the last 5 years, Google has transformed from an innovation only company into a ‘me-too’ company or buyers of small,but highly innovative companies. Marker disruptions can/will/it would be good for us to occur, as competitiveness drives innovation forward. Too bad Nokia was not able to provide this with Meego, but future will be interesting.

    • addicted

      THIS. Which was the last Google innovation, that wasn't just them buying another company and releasing its product for free?