Ballmer: Apple's Mac growth is a "rounding error"

Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer is a man who's not afraid to talk down his competitors. When Apple initially released the iPhone, he stated that it had no chance of gaining a significant market share. Now, when speaking to a group of market analysts, he has said that the growth that the Cupertino company is seeing with their Mac product range can be attributed to a rounding error.

Whilst he was at the 2009 Financial Analyst Meeting, Ballmer said, "Share versus Apple, you know, we think we may have ticked up a little tick, but when you get right down to it, it's a rounding error. Apple's share change, plus or minus from ours, they took a little share a couple quarters, we took share back a couple quarters." He then added, "Apple's share globally cost us nothing. Now, hopefully, we will take share back from Apple, but you know, Apple still only sells about 10 million PCs, so it is a limited opportunity." Ballmer noticed that, in the crowd of the meeting, there was a large proportion of Apple computers. He noted, "I can see the Apple logos versus the PC logos. So we have more work to do, more work to do. Our share is lower in this audience than the average audience. But don't hide it. I've already counted them. I have been doing that since we started talking."

He did note that Apple is known for their higher quality machines that PCs usually are, saying, "At least when Apple attacks us, the primary attack that comes from Apple is, 'Hey, at the end of the day, we have the coolest hardware.' When you see the hardware, the PC designs that will come out this Christmas with Windows 7, I think that conventional wisdom can begin to really change. There is some really amazing, amazing work. So it is possible to get great hardware innovation, even when hardware and software comes from separate companies."

Ballmer describes Windows as falling in between OS X and Linux to get what consumers want; a product that's not too cheap, and not too expensive. About Apple, in this regard, he said, "We do not, say, like Apple, believe in low volume, very high prices, very -- Apple is a great company, does a fine job. But their model says high margin, high quality, high price. That's kind of how they come to market. We say we want big market share. But with big market share, you take a lower price."

Lastly, AppleInsider added on Ballmer's thoughts about Microsoft's 'Laptop Hunters' advertisement range, saying, "And are the ads working? In an independent survey, we asked 18- to 24-year-olds—or they were asked, 'Who offers the best value, Apple or Microsoft?' You can kind of see Apple was comfortably ahead despite the fact they — well, despite whatever the facts are. Our ads started in April of '09. You can see kind of what the perception changes have been so far."

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104 Comments

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I agree with what he says about Windows there...
but... "There is some really amazing, amazing work." - I've heard stuff like this time and time again and nothing 'amazing' ever shows up

Well, if consumers aren't buying into what you have to say about your own products, you might as well try and damage the appearance of your competitors, right? It's like the old bully tactic, if you've got a lot of issues, make other people feel worse than you do, that way you feel better, right? Well, in a bully's mind it works anyway! Good luck, Ballmer!

So, what is it when Apple runs a multi-million dolloar, multi-year ad campaign attempting to "damage the apperance" of their biggest competitor, Microsoft?

"I can see the Apple logos versus the PC logos. So we have more work to do, more work to do. Our share is lower in this audience than the average audience. But don't hide it. I've already counted them. I have been doing that since we started talking."
("Mental note: This room needs more chairs!")

Ballmer noticed that, in the crowd of the meeting, there was a large proportion of Apple computers
. He noted, "I can see the Apple logos versus the PC logos. So we have more work to do, more work to do. Our share is lower in this audience than the average audience."

Yes, amongst the blogger, Tech journalist community, they have a real problem. It's impossible to get people that are using OSX to write anything about you that isn't completely slanted and biased.

How many times have Apple reps trashed competitors only to have the same blogging community that rips everything Ballmer says, completely ignore, or downplay their words? And what Ballmer said isnt in the same league of putting "Snow Leopard" on a screen and crossing out snow, and saying it's the same thing.

You know like Apple did just a few weeks ago.

And when is the last time Apple praised anything from their competitors?

Ozood said,
Yes, amongst the blogger, Tech journalist community, they have a real problem. It's impossible to get people that are using OSX to write anything about you that isn't completely slanted and biased.

Kettle, pot, and black comes to mind. A prime example would be most of the users of this site; unless you think they are not prejudiced against anything that isn't made by MS?

Well, when these people show up to an Apple presentation and rip on the many obnoxious things Apple officials say in blog posts, then you will have a point.

During that speech Ballmer says, "Don't hide your Apple computers, as long as you have Microsoft Office installed on them"

warwagon said,
Well he's not totally wrong. I mean Apple does count all the iphone users as someone who uses OSX

What are you talking about, nowhere has Apple said this. Apple talks quite distinctly about how many Laptops they sell, and how many phones. They don't keep it secret like Microsoft does over how many Windows versions it sells, or how many people buy Vista and then upgrade to XP.

warwagon said,
Well he's not totally wrong. I mean Apple does count all the iphone users as someone who uses OSX


Although it would not surprise me....

Source?

cakesy said,
What are you talking about, nowhere has Apple said this. Apple talks quite distinctly about how many Laptops they sell, and how many phones. They don't keep it secret like Microsoft does over how many Windows versions it sells, or how many people buy Vista and then upgrade to XP.

Phil Schiller counter OSX = Mac + iPhone (without splitting numbers) during MW'09...so you are wrong.

The truth is with economy explosion Apple is not really gonna catch up in a near future.Some surveys show that 90% of people in France for example are usng a PC......so Microsoft should not even bother

armanderli said,
The truth is with economy explosion Apple is not really gonna catch up in a near future.Some surveys show that 90% of people in France for example are usng a PC......so Microsoft should not even bother


No one thinks Apple is going to take over the marketplace, but they are denting MS marketshare and that cost them money.

armanderli said,
The truth is with economy explosion Apple is not really gonna catch up in a near future.Some surveys show that 90% of people in France for example are usng a PC......so Microsoft should not even bother

You know 90% is below the stats for the rest of the world? Your stat would need to be above 95% to mean something special.

(only 90% PC users would mean Apple is doing pretty damn well in France.)

armanderli said,
The truth is with economy explosion Apple is not really gonna catch up in a near future.Some surveys show that 90% of people in France for example are usng a PC......so Microsoft should not even bother

That doesn't mean 90% are using MS software. In fact recently most of france's government moved to GNU/Linux. And remember MS doesn't dominate in europe the way it does in the US.

Of course that all assumes you didn't make that 90% number up. What survey are you talking about exactly?

Nightwind Hawk said,
It's funny how Apple's success relies on their CEO yet Microsoft somehow survives with a guy like this in charge...


I think you over-rate Steve's importance to many. Yes, to active Apple supporters and some investors Steve is the voice/vision of the company, but I'll bet just as many don't have a clue.

I generally like MS products, but Ballmer just tries to make himself look retarded. Thank god Ray Ozzie actually runs the company.

kazuyette said,
I miss Bill Gates but I'll never buy a Mac because of what Ballmer said.

I have done so many things I had promiss myself I wouldnt do.

"This is the last time I'll talk to you!"
^^ Yeah, right!

shockz said,
Ballmer makes me want to buy a mac.

+1. Wait... I'm sitting at one now :). I guess the least this makes me want to do is restart the computer to use OS X instead of Windows. :P


edit: and as I was raised from both camps, in my honest opinion "Ballmer describes Windows as falling in between OS X and Linux" is incorrect. If anything OS X falls between Windows and Linux. Quite literally, OS X is based around linux.

Windows is something completely different, it is off the other end of the scale because it is useful for something. It does not fit in between OS X and Linux.

I want Uncle Bill back

dagrimdialer619 said,
Quite literally, OS X is based around linux.

Except that it's not. It's based around Darwin, which was derived from BSD and NEXTSTEP.

PsychoDoughBoy said,
Except that it's not. It's based around Darwin, which was derived from BSD and NEXTSTEP.

ok sorry, I got the wrong information.

dagrimdialer619 said,
ok sorry, I got the wrong information.

Don't let that stop you from speaking with absolute conviction. Don't let the facts get in the way now, that just slows down the thought processes :0 Either way, Linux or BSD are very robust OS, which just lack the ease of use of Windows or Mac.

cakesy said,
Either way, Linux or BSD are very robust OS, which just lack the ease of use of Windows or Mac.

I absolutely disagree. A Linux system can be just as easy (or even easier) to use as a Windows system or even a MacOSX system. It only needs to be setup correctly, from there it's just point and click.

dagrimdialer619 said,
edit: and as I was raised from both camps, in my honest opinion "Ballmer describes Windows as falling in between OS X and Linux" is incorrect. If anything OS X falls between Windows and Linux. Quite literally, OS X is based around linux.

He wasn't talking about the codebase when he made that statement, anyway.

PsychoDoughBoy said,
Except that it's not. It's based around Darwin, which was derived from BSD and NEXTSTEP.


And BSD is based on Unix
Linux is based on Unix.


Hmmm.....Do we see a connection?

powerade01 said,
And BSD is based on Unix
Linux is based on Unix.


Hmmm.....Do we see a connection?


Linux was based on Minix. Except it wasn't a microkernel, so even then it wasn't a copy, as that is a significant difference.

And none of that changes the ludicrous statement that OSX is based on Linux.

Like this:
Euros are based on money.
US Dollars are based on money.
therefore, Euros are based on US Dollars! ?

Why would anyone trust this guy seriously? I'd rather buy a mac too. Both OS X and Ubuntu are infinitely superior to vista, doesn't everyone know this?

powerade01 said,
And BSD is based on Unix

I was actually originally going to say Unix.

LoveThePenguin said,
Why would anyone trust this guy seriously? I'd rather buy a mac too. Both OS X and Ubuntu are infinitely superior to vista, doesn't everyone know this?

OS X most certainly is a far superior operating system to Windows in many regards. People just need to get their heads around how to do things.


One last word,

Ballmer is nuts. Microsoft needs a forward thinker with charisma.

markjensen said,

Linux was based on Minix. Except it wasn't a microkernel, so even then it wasn't a copy, as that is a significant difference.

And none of that changes the ludicrous statement that OSX is based on Linux.

Like this:
Euros are based on money.
US Dollars are based on money.
therefore, Euros are based on US Dollars! ? :laugh:

PMSL hahaha except he's right BSD core, was based on *nix, it's all relative anyway, personal and professional choices are utilised when making your decision over any OS and system, notto mention cost. those of us who spend every single business hour locked into the monotiny (sp??) that is the major business world use Windows, but then we generally use *nix on the servers as opposed to Windows Server, and then our graphics/media teams use Macs.

I'm a PC either way, gee I make myself laugh hahahaha

I really didn't read anything bad in the article in fact it seemed at a couple of points Ballmer gave Apple some kudos. I guess it's just the way each reader ascertains what the author was attempting to part take to the audience. And, it depends on which way the individual reader is leaning, thus if you are a Mac users you see only bad things, and if you are a Windows user you see the opposite. Of course if you are a user of Linux you are setting back and laughing at the other two sides.

Ain't Computing Fun!

Pam14160 said,
I really didn't read anything bad in the article in fact it seemed at a couple of points Ballmer gave Apple some kudos. I guess it's just the way each reader ascertains what the author was attempting to part take to the audience. And, it depends on which way the individual reader is leaning, thus if you are a Mac users you see only bad things, and if you are a Windows user you see the opposite. Of course if you are a user of Linux you are setting back and laughing at the other two sides.

Ain't Computing Fun!

I think it's the fact that he can't put together an intelligent, coherent sentence. I'm not saying his point is wrong, just that he sounds partially retarded.

PsychoDoughBoy said,
"speak bad"? That's the worst sentence I've read for weeks.

Just implictly add a '-ly' inflection to 'bad' then you have grammaticality. And personally I've seen much worse.

The only reason he even cares to comment on this is that he feels a need for it, though, and that should be worth thinking about alone. Microsoft feel the pressure from Apple the more they keep gaining market share, and that's that. If they truly didn't care, they wouldn't even go out in press about these "pointless" matters.

Having said that, Jobs' truth bending is about as annoying as Ballmer's condescending attitude.

Finally...

When you see the hardware, the PC designs that will come out this Christmas with Windows 7, I think that conventional wisdom can begin to really change. There is some really amazing, amazing work.

I've heard this many times before, but it has rarely materialized. If true, they sure are keeping the hardware designs under wrap well. I hope I'm wrong though.

Uh Apple's market share has actually fallen, and they have been bumped out of, I think, the 4th place spot by a PC maker.

Beastage said,
But he is right.

Sure, just as right as when he said the iPhone has no chance of gaining a significant market share.

Beastage said,
But he is right.


About what? While MS lost sales last quarter and took their first major hit in growth, Apple had a record non-holiday quarter. If price is the main concern why is Apple making gains in a down economy?

bob_c_b said,
Ballmer is just sad now, good luck MS, you are going to need it with the monkey at the helm.

You know he's not new, right?

bob_c_b said,
Ballmer is just sad now, good luck MS, you are going to need it with the monkey at the helm.

But wasn't gates in charge when vista was developed? That kind of negates that point no?

bob_c_b said,
Ballmer is just sad now, good luck MS, you are going to need it with the monkey at the helm.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Ballmer#Microsoft_career
Because he only just joined MS yesterday...

And they may have taken a hit, pretty sure Apple has taken hits as a company or at least in some of it's markets this year also. Not forgetting both companies have major products around the corner too. MS is hardly sinking.

Cyranthus said,
yeah, but mac's are the most expensive computers... so that balances out, right? lol

Not if you include all the software you have to buy to equal the functionality of a mac right out of the box. Not only that but OEM PC components are usually junk. I'd rather build my own or buy a mac.

erm we all know you get what you pay for when buying a pc but that rule seems not to apply to macs where you buy less and pay more

LoveThePenguin said,
Not if you include all the software you have to buy to equal the functionality of a mac right out of the box.
Like what exactly? I'm pretty damn sure the freeware scene for windows is more than adequate to give you more or less or that functionality and where you can't get a freeware equivalent it probably means it's something the mass market doesn't really want to use anyway.

LoveThePenguin said,
Not if you include all the software you have to buy to equal the functionality of a mac right out of the box. Not only that but OEM PC components are usually junk. I'd rather build my own or buy a mac.

Macs parts are built by OEMs. same components. Only a few things like the case and motherboard are custom-designed and usually only to fit the form factor.

So..should we expect something very nice from the manufactures like Dell,HP,Sony,Acer etc with the Cool Laptop/Desktops alike mac during this christmas season..Thats cool!!

We wish, they are just pumping out the cheapest crap, most of their laptops aren't even designed in the USA, they are designed in taiwan and china, and they all look the same. Dell came out with a decent looking laptop, and then charged the earth for it, more than a Macbook Air.

mindscape said,
Ballmer's like Jobs.

Ballmer is nothing like jobs, jobs brought a company from nothing, ballmers driving microsoft to nothing. The sooner that nutjob is out of Microsoft, the sooner Microsoft pushes forward. They have excellent talent like steve from the windows and office team, yet this idiot keeps sticking his foot in his mouth, reminds me of prince phillip from the royal family in the uk. Everytime he goes out the royal family are scared he's gonna say something stupid.

AltecXP said,
I miss Bill Gates.....

I say keep balmer so he can destroy the whole company. What a day that will be when MS don't exist. Hmm, is that what we would call an utopia?

LoveThePenguin said,
I say keep balmer so he can destroy the whole company. What a day that will be when MS don't exist. Hmm, is that what we would call an utopia?

That's so retarded. You really hate a company that damn much that you hope it doesn't exist? For what insane reason? That you just dont like their products?

Maybe the day Apple goes out of business will be the day all of their users drown themselves in the ocean, and we can all live in peace.

LoveThePenguin said,
Except that he fails at everything he does.

Its so fun to watch Linux users hate on Microsoft. Linux is like the fly on a cows butt looking for fresh droppings; and every time the cow wiggles it's tail the fly thinks some sort of seismic shift is occurring.

Run along now and start working on some OSS code. The freetards need you!

Ozood said,
Maybe the day Apple goes out of business will be the day all of their users drown themselves in the ocean, and we can all live in peace.

Maybe Linux will drive them both out of business, so there won't be any selfish monopolies misleading users and controlling development.

Ballmers being the CEO for close to a decade now. Love him or hate him, MS is still doing fine and in many people's eyes are probably on a rise if anything.

Ballmer can't and won't kill MS...it'll take a lot more employees and mistakes by committee to see that happen.

REM2000 said,
They have excellent talent like steve from the windows and office team, yet this idiot keeps sticking his foot in his mouth, reminds me of prince phillip from the royal family in the uk. Everytime he goes out the royal family are scared he's gonna say something stupid.

Everytime he goes out the royal family are scared the press will blow something out of proportion... maybe balmer, jobs, and philip are the same.

(Most things Phillip says are casual jokes that are thin to the line but nothing you wouldn't expect to hear daily in jokes and from comedians or anyone else, the only difference is people expect him to be a old git and have no fun. Calling the soviet union b*****ds for murdering half his family, joking about scottish boozing, and saying the problem with brazil is brazillians are all blown out of context and suggested he made press releases - when infact it was just mild conversation and 'banter'.

toadeater said,
Maybe Linux will drive them both out of business, so there won't be any selfish monopolies misleading users and controlling development.

Let's replace corporations with selfish developers who have no obligation or interest in working for the community. It's the Linux way.