BusinessWeek’s Hesseldahl rips Microsoft’s Ballmer in open letter

BusinessWeek’s Arik Hesseldahl, in an open letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, says that Microsoft’s unsolicited offer for Yahoo! is “a profoundly bad idea” and that Ballmer has no focus:

So who has focus? That other Steve. You know, the turtle-necked guy in California who keeps annoying you by selling iPods and computers that typically don’t run on Windows. You could learn a lot from him. Focus saved his company from oblivion. Apple (AAPL) does what it’s good at, and it expands into new areas carefully. (Examples: iPod, iTunes music store, Apple retail store, iPhone.) Consider this: With sales data showing that Mac computers are growing more popular than ever among consumers, you might think it’s a perfect time for Apple to ride that momentum and go after corporate computing. But it won’t. Why? Apple knows it wouldn’t work because you have the corporate market all tied up with your pals Dell (DELL) and HP.

And why is the Mac growing more popular among consumers? Well, let’s be honest. Windows Vista isn’t exactly winning you many friends despite all the extra time you took to “perfect” it. (How many deadlines did you miss again?) At the same time, Apple’s cleaning your clock in the smartphone business—the iPhone is now the second most popular smartphone in the U.S., behind the BlackBerry (RIMM). I haven’t heard anyone talk enthusiastically about Windows Mobile, since…well, since there’s been a Windows Mobile.

You know what would be a bold move, Steve? Admitting that Microsoft doesn’t belong in the music player business, or the search business, or the advertising business, or the automotive entertainment business. The Zune? It’s a joke. Kill it before you embarrass yourself further. And are the combined forces of Yahoo and Microsoft really going to make a dent in the Google search advertising juggernaut? That’s like asking two fifth-graders to play Kobe Bryant in a game of two-on-one. The results will speak for themselves.

Much more in the full article – highly recommended – here.

Ballmer is a clown. He is nothing more than an example of what you get when you appoint a CEO based upon a fortuitous dorm assignment instead of upon actual ability and talent. May Ballmer remain Microsoft CEO for as long as it takes.


  1. When you look at Apple in Ballmers eyes, the company could easily be all over the place. *sweating*
    Expand laptops to cover the lowend market. Add colors to the
    current laptops. Make the OS more complex for power users. *sweating* Release as many Ipod variables you can think of. Put a keyboard on the iPhone.


    Hope to live long enough to see MS sink.

  2. Ballmer is GOOD for Microsoft. Ballmer is GOOD for the world of computing.

    The Department of Justice refused to PUNISH Microsoft for predatory, sleazy and illegal business practices. Ballmer is accomplishing similar goals with his visionary thinking,

    Think of all the successes under Microsoft’s successes under his watch.
    XBox: they poured billions into it before it turned a profit.
    Vista: they poured 6 years and billions into it.
    Windows Mobile. Plays4Sure. Zune. Surface… the list of glittering accomplishments goes on and on.

    Buy Steve Ballmer his own private jet. hey, if Steve Jobs can get one, certainly Mr. B deserves one, too!

  3. Would a Zune, an xbox360, and many other M$ products ever have even existed, were M$ left undisturbed its its fat happy monopolistic place.
    Hey Zune Tang, tell me M$ would have thought up the Zune in the absence of the iPod.

  4. Ballmer is probably smarter than people here give him credit for, but he lacks judgement imo. His sweaty monkey boy shenanigans are evidence of this – I’ll bet he was a bully growing up as well, and a blowhard. If I worked for Yahoo, I’d be very afraid right now.

  5. Frankly, I WANT MS to buy Yahoo!. I believe that will put them in dire straights financially, and really be the beginning of a steeper decline in Redmond. Yes, I realize sacrificing Yahoo! isn’t a popular idea, but I’m for anything that moves MS closer to the cliff.

  6. Ballmer’s success may be his downfall. At the moment the breakup of MS due to anti-trust legislation is just a non-issue.

    Now this is unlikely, but what if the MicroWho merger is a success? What if MS, over time, keeps 90% of PCs and 80% of Office apps and 80% of corporate servers, but also gets 80% of consumer email (Yahoo, HotMail), 60% of online advertising, 90% of chat (MSN, Yahoo Messenger), etc?

    The governmental pressure to break up MS would be HUGE – much more than that due to just desktops and IE alone, especially if MS started to abuse this monopoly. Ironically the MS breakup would come from MS’ success!

  7. Don’t worry Ampar. BusinessWeek won’t pull a boneheaded move like Gamespot did.

    But Hesseldahl, did indeed rip Ballmer a new one. I wonder how many chairs get tossed. I’d say this is one would be a 5 chair explosion.

    Anyone want to start the pool?

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