“As software giant Microsoft is warning of continued economic hardship after its first round of layoffs ever, the company’s chief executive is eyeing competition from Apple, Linux, and Google on the desktop while downplaying the market strength of the iPhone and other opponents of its Windows Mobile operating system,” Zach Spear reports for AppleInsider.

“Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer spoke to analysts during a midyear update in New York, where he said he believes the economic downturn will continue into the second half of this year,” Spear reports. “Ballmer addressed its competitors on the OS scene, both acknowledging Apple’s one percent gain in market share over the last year and the rising open-source alternatives.”

Spear reports, “Ballmer also said he was not impressed with the integrated model of Apple’s iPhone, which has captured 51% of mobile web traffic, or Research In Motion’s BlackBerry platform, which dominates the corporate messaging market in the US.”

“‘The truth of the matter is all the consumer market mojo is with Apple and to a lesser extent BlackBerry,’ he said. ‘And yet, the real market momentum with operators and the real market momentum with device manufacturers seems to primarily be with Windows Mobile and Android.’ Ballmer’s company made similar comments as it worked to promote PlaysForSure as an industry coalition in competition with Apple’s iPod,” Spear reports.

“Last week Microsoft previewed Windows Mobile 6.5, which won’t ship until the end of the year. The company plans to launch Windows Mobile 7, which was originally intended to have already shipped by now, sometime next year.

Despite dismissing the iPhone as hype, Ballmer said he sees growing competition in mobile software sales, such as Apple’s iPhone App Store. He also has noticed the growth of ecosystems with software, hardware, and services bundled together,” Spear reports. “Both the Cupertino-based company’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry fit that description, while Microsoft itself does not manufacture handsets. To date, it has favored partnerships with existing device makers instead.”

Full article here.

Paul Boutin reports for The Industry Standard, “Ballmer has a history of iPhone putdowns. Judging by his latest appraisal of the smartphone market, he still has trouble accepting the success of Apple’s phone.”

Boutin reports, “Data from a Gartner report from the third quarter of 2008 showed RIM’s BlackBerry models and Apple’s iPhones in a distant second and third behind Nokia, whose 42% market share of phones largely run the Symbian OS. Gartner’s data indicated that Windows Mobile shipped four million units in the quarter, compared to 4.7 million iPhones.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously, Fester is quite the delusional fargin’ bastage. Earth to Ballmer: you suck, your company sucks, and your company’s products suck; with one exception, of course: if you ever decide to make vacuum cleaners. And we wouldn’t put that one past you, either, you stunning epitome of mismanagement, you. Zune. That said, raise your glasses for our traditional toast: “May Steve Ballmer remain Microsoft CEO for as long as it takes!”