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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