Were Ballmer & Ozzie in denial at D?

By Richi Jennings. June 4, 2010.

Steve Ballmer and Ray Ozzie spoke yesterday at the D conference. By common consent, they gave a pretty poor performance. Is Microsoft just a once-great company, now living off the Windows+Office cash-cow? Or does it have some worthy tricks up its sleeves? In IT Blogwatch, bloggers pick over the bones.

Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention Chuck & Beans...


    Miguel Helft helps us understand:

On Thursday, Microsoft’s chief executive, Steven A. Ballmer, whose company’s success still rides on the success of the personal computer ... [said] pretty much every computing device is a PC. ... Ballmer acknowledged that computing is undergoing an enormous shift where ... the cloud will play an ever growing role ... [and] Microsoft needs to work especially hard to maintain its position.


Ballmer also took a few potshots at competitors like Apple ... and Google. ... And he said the gains that Microsoft made in search since it released Bing a year ago are nothing more than a good start.

Nick Eaton adds:

Ballmer said (echoing Ozzie's recent thoughts), ... PCs are growing. Not just desktops and laptops, but netbooks and – gasp – tablets. ... They just have touch screens and lack keyboards. Stick an iPad in a docking port, and you've got a regular PC again.


Microsoft wants plenty of tablets to run Windows. ... Asus just launched a Windows tablet called the Eee Pad, and there are more to come from other manufacturers.

Preston Gralla contextualizes:

Ballmer and Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie were interviewed onstage by Wall Street [Journal] columnist Walt Mossberg. ...  Ballmer at first refused to admit ... Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft Entertainment and Devices division, ... was gone because of problems with Windows Phone 7.


[But] then makes this admission about Microsoft and mobile: ... "I've been quite public about the fact that I've made some changes in leadership around our Windows Phone software." ... Android shows signs of becoming the dominant smartphone OS, and Apple won't be going away any time soon, either.

Om Malik says Ballmer is "wrong once again":

He was wrong about the iPod. He was wrong about the iPhone and he is once again ... wrong about Google’s Android. ... Steve Ballmer [said] ... "On the phone, Android’s a real competitor. On the larger-screen devices ... I don’t know that these Android-based things will matter."


Android has a momentum that is currently unrivaled.? ... The hardware industry is innovating around Android: from cars to set-top boxes to televisions to refrigerators to cars. ... Android has gored Microsoft’s mobile operations. ... Tablets, powered by low-cost ARM-based processors and the free Android OS, are ... taking away opportunities from Microsoft. ... [It] will prove to be Microsoft’s Waterloo.

Tim Anderson excoriates the dynamic duo:

Steve Ballmer and ... Ray Ozzie put on a poor performance. ...  They allowed the conversation to be focused mainly on competing products. ... Since these products have exposed weaknesses in Microsoft’s own offerings, it was unlikely to work out well.


You would expect the two men to enthuse about how Microsoft’s dominance with desktop Office was now including the cloud. ... Nope. Ozzie waffles about people being more connected. Ballmer “disputes the notion that everything is moving to the cloud”. ... Ballmer ... defends the stylus ... implying that Microsoft is just going to repeat its part mistakes. ... Apple has pretty much proved that most people prefer not to have one.

Prince McLean is not a low-fat sandwich:

Ballmer noted optimistically that "market leaders [in smartphones] have shifted over twice in the last five or six years." ... [He] noted "how good a job [RIM has] done on the consumer side of the business." ... [He] said he realized [Nokia] was the global leader but that the company has nearly no presence in the US. "But you know, I think they're interesting."

Meanwhile, Jason Hiner checks for sanity:

Ballmer doesn’t see tablets as anything special. In his view, tablets are simply one of many PC form factors. ... [His] PC+smartphone view of the industry is ... reactionary rather than visionary. Ballmer has never tried to be a visionary. ... Microsoft is the incumbent ... so it doesn’t have to be as bold and risky as Apple.


It’s entirely possible that many of the users in developing countries will skip traditional PCs altogether. ... The company is in danger of missing out on the industry’s next big growth phase.

And Finally...

Chuck & Beans

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: itbw@richij.com.

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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