updated 03:35 pm EDT, Thu July 30, 2009
Ballmer on Win Competitors
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer today told those gathered at his company's financial analyst meeting that he fully anticipates stiffer competition, particularly from incumbent rivals like Apple, Linux and evetually Chrome OS. He contended that it was only natural for an OS as dominant as Windows to face a threat and maintained that Microsoft "deserves competition" to remain healthy. In spite of particular inroads by Apple, Microsoft's devotion to improving its OS for Windows 7 would keep it afloat.
Even so, Ballmer downplayed the Mac's impact and argued that Microsoft's poor fiscal year was a "wash." He claimed that while Apple might have gained market share early on in the period, which began in July 2008, this was reportedly balanced by Windows recouping share in the last few months ahead of June 2009.
The statement is already believed to be somewhat inaccurate, however, as Apple posted a 4 percent increase in Mac sales in the spring where Microsoft itself has estimated the PC industry shrank by 5 to 7 percent, contributing to the company's first-ever annual decline in the 23 years since its initial public offering on the stock market. Companies like Dell have faced declines both from corporate hesitation to buy large numbers of PCs as well as an inability to crack the premium PC market, where Apple has a majority share in US retail.
However, Ballmer encountered mild embarrassment when he noted a disproportionately large number of Macs in use by journalists at the meeting that appeared to undermine the argument for Windows market share.
"I can see we have some work to do here," he said. "Don't hide it, I've already counted them. We got a bank of them over here in the middle, over here. Feel free, as long as you're using Office to go right ahead."