Steve Ballmer's take on Apple? Just a $500 logo

Steve Ballmer isn't stupid, but sometimes his opinions seem to rally his opponents more than they help Microsoft and its partners.  He knows his words will get repeated and will flame the Mac vs. PC wars.  This time however, they may have backfired.  He told a crowd Thursday at the McGraw-Hill Companies' Media Summit New York:

"Apple gained about one point [in global market share], but now I think the tide has really turned back the other direction.  The economy is helpful. Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be."

Steve Ballmer Salesman

Well, obviously that isn't true.  Take the new Dell Adamo for instance.  At a retail price of $2000, it competes well with the $1800 MacBook Air.  Also, try to put together a gaming rig or workstation with specs like a Mac Pro and you'll get a pretty close comparison in price on the PC side from Sony or Alienware.  Same for the base MacBook.  It compares fairly well with high end, comparably equipped PC laptops...give or take a hundred bucks.

It is a shame for Microsofties though because he could have said something more coherent.  Where Ballmer could have made a legitimate point is that the barrier of entry on a PC is much lower than a Mac.  The Mac Mini is the lowest priced Mac at $600.  It comes without a keyboard, mouse or monitor.  You can now buy a very solid Windows (or better yet Linux?) Netbook for around half of that.  To get a MacBook, Apple's best selling laptop, You'll need to spend over $600 more.

While these machines won't run Vista to save their lives, most indications are that they will do well with Windows 7.  The fact that they come with Windows XP isn't really a big deal either, you are only going to run a few browsers on there and a few small office and Internet apps.  XP works as well as Vista or 7 for these purposes.

So, while saying "our 7 year old software runs on inexpensive new machines that are very useful but not technologically advanced" doesn't sound quite as sexy, it would have been much more honest and relevant.  It doesn't get as many blogposts though.

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