Ballmer: Apple not a hot brand, our partners will make look-alike iPhones, I gotta go

“The word ‘intense’ was invented for [Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer, who met with us in a green room that had a paper sign with his name taped to the door. While he was at first warm and engaging, a question about security features shifted his mood. His eyes, soft when he smiles, grew dark. The usually boisterous Ballmer became unexpectedly quiet and soon exited the room without saying goodbye. Still, he had a lot to say… before he did,” Dyan Machan reports for SmartMoney Magazine.

A few choice snippets:

Machan: Steve Jobs’s iPhone announcement stole the thunder from Bill Gates’s keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show. Do you wish you had the iPhone?
Ballmer: No. Apple has put its brand into a new category. That doesn’t mean it’s a good product. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of our partners came out with a device that looks exactly the same at a lower price in six or seven months [near the time when iPhones will ship]. There’s a notion that there’s magic with Apple. iPod is a hot brand — not Apple.

Machan: But Apple is in the home, winning in the very place Microsoft has identified as important to its strategy — that is, entertainment.
Ballmer: It’s a romantic notion that Apple has the lead. People who build overpriced, underpowered equipment and then market it in an edgy way do not have a formula for broad success. In the home there are PCs; Apple has no presence. There are videogame machines; Apple has no presence. TVs: Apple has no presence; Microsoft has some presence. Music: Apple has a very large presence [via the iPod]; Microsoft has an interesting presence in the high-end market.

Machan: You mean the Zune? Please.
Ballmer: We don’t kid ourselves. We won’t come out our first Christmas and take over. There will be a phase two and three. But at the end of the day, entertainment devices will be a very good business for us.

Machan: People complain about feature bloat. Most of us use 5 to 10% of features. People won’t buy for features.
Ballmer: No. They will buy for features. People use more of these products than they think. Maybe you couldn’t write [a great PowerPoint presentation]. But now you can read it. The user interface is sexier. Sex sells.

Machan: What part of Bill Gates’s job stretches you the most?
Ballmer: There’s no replacing Bill Gates. I gotta go.

More in the full interview, including the security questions, here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dave” for the heads up.]
Apple StoreCertainly, any Microsoft shareholder with a brain would concur with Ballmer’s last sentence. Selfishly, we hope he stays long enough to ride the ship all the way down to its well-deserved watery grave. Microsoft has an interesting presence in the high-end music market? Please, indeed. Kudos to Dyan Machan for going at Ballmer hard. The Zune is a joke. Vista is a bloated, messy joke with an interface that even the most-delusional know is trying to look like Apple’s Mac OS X. Hey, “sex sells,” right? Ballmer’s hope to compete with iPhone is the same old, same old Microsoft business-as-usual: make it “look” like an Apple product to fool the ignorant. What’s really interesting about this is Ballmer’s Gates-like hasty exit: even they seem to be so tired of hearing their own B.S. that there’s no point of continuing their charades. For their shareholders, Microsoft really ought to keep Ballmer and Gates off the interview circuit until they get their Apple envy under control.

Related articles:
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Train wreck: Windows Vista flaw locks up PCs when users try to delete, copy, move files – March 27, 2007
Bill Gates not amused when asked about Apple’s ‘Get a Mac’ ads – March 15, 2007
Gates dumps Microsoft stock – March 05, 2007
Why Apple’s smart ‘Get a Mac’ campaign drives Bill Gates crazy – March 04, 2007
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Ballmer says pirates to blame for poor Vista sales – February 19, 2007
Bill Gates: Vista is so secure it could run life support systems – February 16, 2007
Ballmer calls Apple ‘cute, little tiny niche guy’ – February 15, 2007
Microsoft’s Gates tries FUD to keep people from switching to Apple’s secure Mac – February 12, 2007
Bill Gates unhinged with Apple envy; Microsoft on path to become high profile casualty – February 06, 2007
Bill Gates has lost his mind: calls Apple liars, copiers; slams Mac OS X security vs. Windows – February 02, 2007
Microsoft’s Windows Vista: Five years for a chrome-plated turd – January 30, 2007
Bill Gates lists Microsoft ‘innovations’ that Apple has offered Mac users for years – January 30, 2007
Gates bristles over Vista, Mac OS X comparisons – January 29, 2007
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Ballmer: ‘Zune halo effect’ will help Windows Vista – December 06, 2006
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Ballmer: I’m Microsoft’s ‘primary champion of innovation’ – July 27, 2006
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  1. Don’t blame Balmer for walking out. The interviewer was asking retarded questions and I’m surprised Balmer didn’t call him on it. One of the worst tech interviews I’ve read in a long time.

  2. He and Gates are feeling pressured. It’s gotta’ suck to constantly be asked about your much smaller, much sleeker rival. Basically, they keep getting asked: why do you suck? and do you realize you’re really, really boring, Señor Copycat?

  3. jeff wrote:
    “The interviewer was asking retarded questions…”

    Your painful grammar aside, what exactly was “retarded” about these questions? They were very reasonable in my opinion.

  4. MDN take is right on. We DO NOT want this man to leave the ship Microsoft. We DO NOT want a motivated visionary taking over and erasing the culture of “no taste” left by Gates/Allen/Ballmer. Be sad, the day this man leaves.

    MW: With. Microsoft is better off (for us) WITH this man!

  5. I’m glad someone finally had the guts to call out Ballmer on some of his bullsh*t for a change. That’s why the moron monkey walked out of the interview so quickly.

    “You mean the Zune? Please.” Sums that up perfectly.

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