The poetry of Steve Ballmer

Steve Ballmer July 9th, 2012 on competing with Apple:

We are trying to make absolutely clear:
We are not going to leave any space uncovered to Apple
We are not.
No space uncovered that is Apple’s
We have our advantages in productivity
We have our advantages in terms of enterprise management, manageability
We have our advantages in terms of when you plug into server infrastructure in the enterprise.
But we are not going to let any piece of this [go uncontested to Apple]
Not the consumer cloud
Not hardware software innovation
We are not leaving any of that to Apple by itself
Not going to happen
Not on our watch.

Steve Ballmer, July 2010 on competing with Apple’s iPhone and iPad:

Today, kind of I’d say one of the top issues on my mind, let alone on your minds, one of the top issues on my mind, is, hey, there is a category that we’ve had Windows on for actually a long time. We’ve had Windows 7 on, tablets and slate machines now for a number of years, and Apple has done an interesting job of putting together a synthesis and putting a product out, and in which they’ve — they sold certainly more than I’d like them to sell, let me just be clear about that.

We think about that. We think about that in competitive sense. And for us, then, the job is to say: Okay, we have a lot of IP, we have a lot of good software in this area, we’ve done a lot of work on ink and touch and everything else — we have got to make things happen. Just like we had to make things happen on netbooks, we’ve got to make things happen with Windows 7 on slates. And we are in the process of doing that as we speak. We’re working with our hardware partners, we’re tuning Windows 7 to new slate hardware designs that they’re bringing them to market. And, yeah, you’re going to get a lot of cacophony. There will be people who do things with other operating systems. But we’ve got the application base, we’ve got the user familiarity. We’ve got everything on our side if we do things really right.

So, we think about these devices and I don’t think there really is one size that fits all. I don’t think everybody wants a slate. I’ve been to too many meetings with journalists who’d spend the first 10 minutes of the meeting setting up their iPad to look like a laptop…

Laptops actually are well designed for a lot of things. I notice they are all light. In fact, if you look around this room, they all weigh zero pounds, because they’re just sitting on the table, you are not holding them and you don’t set them up when you want to type, and they prop up — they have good attributes. But some people are going to want that form factor. Some people are going to want probably a screen that they take with them and maybe they throw it back into the keyboard. Some people are going to want a device that is screen and keyboard that spins around for inking purposes. Some people are going to want things very light or very cheap or very expensive or very powerful. All of those things are going to be important, and we’ve got a push right now — right now — with our hardware partners.

… We’re coming full guns. The operating system is called Windows. No — there’s — let me be unambiguous. A new Windows Phone for screen sizes that, let me just say, are, you know, sort of bigger than three or four inches — the answer is Windows Phone. We are in the game. We’re all in the game today with Intel architecture machines. We’ve got improvements coming from Intel. We’re driving forward. We’re unambiguous about that. Now, where we’ll go and what’s going to matter — I said also in my remarks that in no way will we allow hardware to be the impediment. We will embrace what we need to embrace over time in terms of hardware evolution.

But you say to me are we going to see slate? Yes. What processor are they going to have? They are going to have an Intel architecture processor at least in any foreseeable future. Are they going to run Windows? Yeah. Will it be tuned? Yes! And we are going to sell like crazy. We are going to market like crazy. We have devices that will run more applications, that have as much content, that have anything you want on the planet.

And we have an ecosystem of developers that know how to write applications for that thing. Believe me, as I think everybody knows, you can buy two PCs for the price of one iPad — two netbooks today for the price of one iPad. So, people are sitting there over-celebrating BOM costs and blah, blah, blah. We and Intel can get our job done and know how to make money. There’s good money for everybody in the ecosystem to go make.

I talked about power. We’ve got work we have to do with hardware partners, with Intel. There’s certainly some work to be done there. And over time where we go is where we go. But at least in the timeframe that which anybody does these models, for example, let’s go. Let’s go and we’ll be in market as soon as we can with new devices, whether that’s, you know, really, really soon or just really pretty soon. I’m going to wait until I have the device that I want to hand you and tell you to go use, or a collection of devices. I think that would be the appropriate time to say it is time. But it ain’t a long time from now. Pardon my English…

On the netbook, nor the slate, if it’s two weeks one way or the other, or it’s a month, I mean, let’s not speculate, let’s merely say when you get your Windows 7 machine, it will print. Let’s just start with that. I mean some people actually like to print every now and then. Ours will print. I’m not trying to say that other guys aren’t doing good work. I’m not saying that. We’ve got to ‑‑ come on, every day. Every day you come to work you have to prove yourself, prove yourself, prove yourself. We’ll prove ourselves. …

I relish the competition. I relish holding up those couple of machines today that I wanted to hand you. It’s not today. I’ll relish doing it tomorrow. Bring on ‑‑ particularly if with the application base, with the tools that we have, with the user understanding and momentum and everything going on, we can’t compete with ‑‑ particularly whatever the weird collection of Android machines is going to look like, shame on us.

Apple is Apple. They’re always a little tougher to compete with. They’re a really good competitor, and tend to be a really high-priced competitor. People worried a little bit about our bottom costs. They’ve got a lot of margin in those devices, which creates a lot of room in which to operate. Okay. We’ve competed with Apple before. I talked about that.

We’ve been competing with Macs, and I notice in this audience you get one profile for the 93 percent of people almost who agree with us every day about laptops. We’re going to have things that should be interesting to them. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to be exciting. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to have to pay attention to shareholders. It certainly means we’ve got to pay attention. But, at the end of the day kind of what makes life kind of interesting, kind of fun, and you’re going to see very interesting things.

Steve Ballmer, January 2007 on competing with Apple’s iPhone and iPod:

Right now, well let’s take phones first Right now we’re selling millions and millions and millions of phones a year. Apple is selling zero phones a year. In six months they’ll have the most expensive phone by far ever in the marketplace and let’s see. You know what’s so special…? Let’s see how the competition goes.

In the case of music and entertainment players Apple absolutely has the preeminent position We said we want to be in this market. There’s a lot of reasons why. There’s synergy with other things that we’re doing. We’ve got some neat innovations. In particular, what we’re doing with community, with wireless networking. And we came into a market in which they’re very strong and we took, you know, about, by most estimates, I would say we took about twenty, twenty-five percent of the high-end of the market. We weren’t down at some of the lower price points but for devices 249 dollars and over we took, you know, let’s say about twenty percent of the market. So I feel like we’re in the game. We’re driving our innovation hard. Ok, we’re not the incumbent. He’s the incumbent in this game but, uh, at the end of the day he’s gonna have to keep up with an agenda that we’re gonna drive as well.