Microsoft CEO Ballmer on why Apple is thriving

“Kevin Johnson, the president of [Microsoft’s online] division, suddenly and surprisingly resigned late Wednesday, taking over Juniper Networks, and leaving Microsoft’s online business in more disarray than it was already in,” Jim Goldman reports or CNBC.

In a memo to Microsoft employees addressing Johnson’s departure and competition with Google, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer also mentions Apple, pointing out that “Microsoft outsells Apple 30 to 1, but elevates the competition to a new level,” Goldman reports. “He writes: ‘In the competition between PCs and Macs, we outsell Apple 30-to-1. But there is no doubt that Apple is thriving. Why? Because they are good at providing an experience that is narrow but complete, while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises to the end-to-end experience. Today, we’re changing the way we work with hardware vendors to ensure that we can provide complete experiences with absolutely no compromises. We’ll do the same with phones—providing choice as we work to create great end-to-end experiences.'”

Goldman writes, “It’s an interesting take on Microsoft’s position in the marketplace as it relates to Apple. Microsoft is indeed losing marketshare to Apple (2.5 million Macs a quarter start to add up!) because of all the well-documented problems and challenges with Windows Vista. But rather than focus on Vista’s shortcomings, Ballmer spotlights the strengths of the Mac.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “JES42” for the heads up.]

How “narrow” is a platform that is a much better choice for the vast majority of personal computer users who are not short-sightedly shackled to some Windows-only app? That is really the only reason to run Windows and, if that’s the only reason why people run your OS, then you’d better keep developers from writing native versions of their apps for Mac (which, as market share increases have a funny way of promoting, they are doing in droves) or you’ve got absolutely nothing. For example, if Autodesk came out with a good, sound working Mac version of AutoCAD today, Apple would own the architecture market by next week. Architecture firms don’t pick Windows because it’s better, they’re stuck with it for now. The same for the real estate industry, etc.

Furthermore, there is no way that Microsoft “can provide complete experiences with absolutely no compromises.” Not unless they dump the HPs and Dells of the world and adopt Apple’s vertical integration model (control of the whole widget) and begin producing their own PC hardware. Too many cooks in the kitchen otherwise. Even if Microsoft did that, they’d still be stuck with a bloated, legacy-ridden, mess of an OS. And industrial designers the caliber of Jonathan Ive do not grow on trees. If Microsoft made Windows PCs, they’d end up with another Zune. There really is no good news for Microsoft. They don’t have the leadership, they don’t have a culture of innovation, and they don’t have the winning model. All they have are the vestiges of an illegally-constructed monopoly that they can no longer leverage indiscriminately to run roughshod over the tech industry.

The exact same points above work for iPhone vs. a fleet of clunky, junky Windows Mobile devices from every Tom, Dick, and Harry hardware maker. Just like they worked for iPod vs. Apple’s roadkill who all used to use the now-defunct PlaysForSure for their clunky, junky now-defunct MP3 players. Vertical integration trumps horizontal when it comes the end user experience and, drumroll please… end user experience is all that really matters.

Someday the world will look back on the period where Microsoft dominated personal computing as an unfortunate, wasteful mistake. The Dark Ages of Personal Computing is finally drawing to a close. The Apple renaissance is at hand!

Ballmer’s full memo is here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Rainy Day” for the heads up.]


  1. The Apple method of closing the system and issuing Developer Guidelines is vindicated. Ballmer is admitting that the Microsoft way cannot be sustained. Yes, it puts harnesses on developers, but places the end user experience in the primary spotlight, where it should be.

  2. The Microsoft Myth of Choice (MMC™)

    You can buy whatever junky PC box you can find, but you experience will be the same crappy bloated mess, because no matter your hardware choice, it still runs Windows.

    At least it makes people FEEL like they have a choice, when they really don’t, and that’s all that matters.

  3. “”Microsoft outsells Apple 30 to 1”

    MS sells computers?

    yes, i know it has been said before, but come on! you want to compare OS to OS? fine, drop the OEM sales and how do they compare?

    you wanna compare hardware? fine, show me the MS brand computer.

    Apple is thriving because they sell quality stuff. MS hawks crap. end of story.

  4. He’s starting to feel the heat……starting. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    I think that after the comments made by uncle Steve during his 4Q results and all the speculation after about more affordable Macs and as a result greater market-share, it’s no surprise to see a reaction come from ballmer.

    Things are going to start heating up real quick!

  5. I would have to check my facts a little but it seems the Baldmer is living in the past.

    At 30 to 1 Apple’s share would be just over 3%. A couple of years ago that was true.

    Now try 15 to 1and Apple’s share becomes almost 7%. That is a lot closer to reality Mr. Baldmer.

    Welcome to your nightmare.



  6. At what point do you think MS will drop office support for apple. I think apple decided to go into creating an office suite because they knew once they started taking market share that is the first thing MS will pull.

  7. Maybe MS will use Apple’s missteps in the Mobile Me rollout as a template for the “experience” – oh, wait, they do that already ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  8. Just for fun: Steve Ballmer cannot name is son Colin Michael, because then he’d be Colin M. Ballmer.

    Which might be a good thing to do.

    Ballmer’s on to something: Imitate Apple more. Great innovation! I bet someone will say no one has ever done this before.

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