Ballmer calls Dropbox a "little startup"; won't comment on Office for iPad

The launch of Office 2013 and Office 365 Home Premium this week is naturally a big deal for Microsoft. While Office 2013 alone would be a milestone for the company, Microsoft's biggest pitch is really for the new consumer version of Office 365, with its cloud-based features and its yearly subscription.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talked about these aspects in a new interview with Businessweek.com, but one of the questions suggested that Microsoft was coming into the cloud business behind other companies. One specific business that was mentioned was Dropbox, which now has 100 million registered users.

The comparison didn't seem to sit well with Ballmer, who is quoted as saying:

Well, you’ve got to remember, 100 million sounds like a pretty small number to me, actually. We’ve got a lot more Office users. And actually if you even want to go to the cloud, we have a lot of Hotmail and SkyDrive users. I’m not beating on Dropbox. They’re a fine little startup and that’s great.

Ballmer also defended the company's recent $1.2 billion acquisition of Yammer, saying that he was "delighted" with the purchase but admitted, "We have a lot of work to do." He completely dodged a question concerning bringing Office to the iPad, stating, "I have nothing to say on that topic."

Source: Businessweek.com | Image via Microsoft

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Dropbox definitely is a start-up, I will give Ballmer that but it is expanding rapidly and with more widespread as well as a vareity of services. But if I must make a comparison, it should be between Office 365 and Dropbox's integration with GroupDocs. And personally, I find collective capabilities of Dropbox and GroupDocs way practical as well as usable compared to Office 365. But we'll just have to wait as both services evolve to know the ultimate winner.

http://groupdocs.com/blog/grou...h-groupdocs-apps-suite.html

I'm a daily user of both Dropbox and Skydrive, and I can say with a lot of confidence that Dropbox, despite being a "little start-up", has a vastly superior desktop client and more powerful web interface. It seems that SkyDrive only cares about doing the bare minimum to me, syncing folders (excluding shared ones). Dropbox seems to set the bar higher, pushing SkyDrive to get basic features like Selective Sync.
But in the end, both are more stable than Google Drive... *shudder*. I've had to re-download everything twice on my machines because of Google's Drive's desktop client crashing.

Dropbox IS a little startup! It's true! And so is Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and so on.

Steve Ballmer just stated a fact and people are reporting it as if he made a derogatory statement. Sigh.

dropbox will probably disappear in a few years,while Microsoft will not. I don't think I will trust some small time company with my files and data . And plus,skydrive is way better. Its integrated with everything windows,from office,to email,to bing. Its also multiplatform, except for the insignificant and irrelevant Linux.

But of course,all the anti-Microsoft or the pro android/Linux guys will try to sell you on how anything not Microsoft is the greatest thing to ever exist.

I should add, dropbox already ****ed up when they screwed something up ,and everyones files were available to download for 4 hours. Such a security breach is unforgivable. Adding to the fact that dropboxs own employees got hacked doesn't give faith in using their services.

Ballmer is an idiot. At least dropbox has yet to remove the pics of me and my nudist wife we took last year in Florida. Skydrive can go to hell.

Fl3x1bl3 said,
At least dropbox has yet to remove the pics of me and my nudist wife we took last year in Florida. Skydrive can go to hell.

yeah can't uploaded that on Skydrive even if those were marked as private which can only be downloaded by uploader login-authentification.

Skydrive's staff did regularly checks the content of uploaded files,
if they don't like what they found, your Skydrive account will be suspended.

No privacy in Skydrive.
Very likely content in skydrive being actively data-mined by M$ to make list of users profiles & their field of interest.

Fl3x1bl3 said,
Ballmer is an idiot. At least dropbox has yet to remove the pics of me and my nudist wife we took last year in Florida. Skydrive can go to hell.

Pics or it didn't happen.

ms does here some service for you. see it as self protection from total dumbness. why on earth does someone upload pictures being naked himself or from a naked family member to the C.L.O.U.D. ?? come on - thats just plain stupid.

typu said,
ms does here some service for you. see it as self protection from total dumbness. why on earth does someone upload pictures being naked himself or from a naked family member to the C.L.O.U.D. ?? come on - thats just plain stupid.

YOUR OPINION says its stupid. Not everyone is a close minded person. Every human is the exact same, and if your offended by the sight of a human, then you don't have to look. Religion be damned.

take as many of such photos as it pleases you. that is not my point.

my point is - cloud storage is not secure at all and no matter how open minded you are, you do not want naked pictures of your family floating around the internet. worst case visible to everyone.

Torolol said,

yeah can't uploaded that on Skydrive even if those were marked as private which can only be downloaded by uploader login-authentification.

Skydrive's staff did regularly checks the content of uploaded files,
if they don't like what they found, your Skydrive account will be suspended.

No privacy in Skydrive.
Very likely content in skydrive being actively data-mined by M$ to make list of users profiles & their field of interest.

I don't know what this mDollar company is, but as far as MS and skydrive go, no one is manually looking at your pictures, they're scanned by automated routines that look for certain characteristics in the pictures.

It's kind of ridiculous to think that they have millions of people looking at the billions of pictures uploaded as well.

As for avoiding having them tagged by the system, windows has this built int system that lets you pack them in something called zip files.

The problem with releasing Office on iPad is that it may encourage people to buy: iPads! Not what Microsoft want now that they're also a (tablet PC) hardware company.

MS Hardware division = $Billion Business
MS Windows division = $Billion Business
MS Office division = $Billion Business
MS Enterprise division = $Billion Business.

Yeh, I totally see how these are all "failures."

Nas said,
MS Hardware division = $Billion Business
MS Windows division = $Billion Business
MS Office division = $Billion Business
MS Enterprise division = $Billion Business.

Yeh, I totally see how these are all "failures."

Remember that a billion dollar business usually has billion of hungry (or angry) mouths to feed.

(Spork) said,
i have

dropbox
skydrive
google drive
media fire
and a few others

i always use drop box

Exact same here. The others I randomly access here and there for no real reason. My Dropbox however, get's very good usage and is my main source of backup files and cloud storage.

I never appreciate when big, mature companies engage in blatant acts of mudslinging. Microsoft, Apple, Google are all guilty in this respect.

I would say that skydrive is more the startup as hardly anyone has heard of skydrive outside tech websites. I push for it's use as it's a great service, but everyone knows and uses dropbox.

Comparing Dropbox to Microsoft doesn't quite work, it would be better to compare Skydrive to Microsoft as yeah to Microsoft 100mil might not be much but to the Skydrive team that may seem like a mountain.

REM2000 said,
I would say that skydrive is more the startup as hardly anyone has heard of skydrive outside tech websites.

If you're going to gloss over the fact that it's built into Windows 8, Office 2010/2013, Windows Phone, etc, sure.

not a particular reason. just the fact that most businesses dont last more than 10-20 years and companies with such a short historic background, especially in the tech business, need a couple more years to reach stability.

sure, dropbox could last a hundred years, but facts are against it. if they keep doing well, they get bought sooner or later and not sure if Ill like the buyer. So i moved my files from dropbox to skydrive as a personal choice.

What facts? what buyer? 10-20 years? what companies exactly?

10-20 years a go you could probably count internet startups on 1 hand... the 'small internet startups' gig is relatively new, and it's too early to tell how long the 'bigger' startups will last.

and... er whut? o.0

easy man :-) i like dropbox too. i just dont believe in its long term sovereignity.

its all about the own perception.

typu said,
not a particular reason. just the fact that most businesses dont last more than 10-20 years and companies with such a short historic background, especially in the tech business, need a couple more years to reach stability.

sure, dropbox could last a hundred years, but facts are against it. if they keep doing well, they get bought sooner or later and not sure if Ill like the buyer. So i moved my files from dropbox to skydrive as a personal choice.

I can appreciate having choice, your reasoning however is a little odd. You moved from Dropbox to Skydrive because at some point in the future, Dropbox could possibly, maybe be sold to a company you could possibly, maybe not like?

i dont want my files on two services - i used both - so i decided to give only one service a go. obviously i decided for skydrive due to my concerns explained. its nothing groundbreaking, just a simple personal decision :-)

typu said,
i dont want my files on two services - i used both - so i decided to give only one service a go. obviously i decided for skydrive due to my concerns explained. its nothing groundbreaking, just a simple personal decision :-)

I use the cloud as a second level of backup therefore.... I use both. My files are uploaded already encrypted and stay there hoping I do not need them.
Two backup repositories are better than one, especially being both free.

dropbox is nice - skydrive is nice. in the long term i trust my files on skydrive are more "secure" or accessible than on dropbox. im just not sure dropbox still exists in 10 years. im kinda sure microsoft does.

Any particular reason to believe Dropbox is going anywhere? You are aware that they've been active since 2008 and founded in 2007? Of course, not every business can last forever. But I fail to see any reason Dropbox would be going anywhere anytime soon.

I think where he is coming from, is it's more likely for dropbox to get bought out or fail (such as bebo/myspac) I know it seems hard to believe now but back in the day bebo failing would have been hard to belive. AOL especially, who would have thought the once household name would die out like that

Auzeras said,
I think where he is coming from, is it's more likely for dropbox to get bought out or fail (such as bebo/myspac) I know it seems hard to believe now but back in the day bebo failing would have been hard to belive. AOL especially, who would have thought the once household name would die out like that

Right. However, comparing a cloud storage service to social networking doesn't really prove the point. This type of service is built for longevity.

Auzeras said,
I think where he is coming from, is it's more likely for dropbox to get bought out or fail (such as bebo/myspac) I know it seems hard to believe now but back in the day bebo failing would have been hard to belive. AOL especially, who would have thought the once household name would die out like that

That's exactly right. Startups the come up quickly also often die quickly. They have their time in the sun then flounder away to the back benches of the technology world like (my favourite example) IBM. Once at the forefront of technology now little more then a patent factory in third world countries.

competition for services like dropbox are steep and will always remain steep. the chances of failing are extremely high and present every day. you have to miss the competition for just a little while and without the financial backup you get eaten.

tech services are unlike industries that require tremendous amounts of money until you can get started. tech services are replacable within weeks.

Kai Y said,

I'd say that Dropbox is one of the few survivors... countless cloud storage services have failed already. See this list of promising cloud storage companies from 2006: http://techcrunch.com/2006/01/31/the-online-storage-gang/ how many of them are left?

That's actually a very nice example of companies that were one seen as "built for longevity" and have now essentially packed up, taken the money and just completely killed their storage servers in return for a multimillion dollar life in the bahamas.

nekkidtruth said,
Any particular reason to believe Dropbox is going anywhere? You are aware that they've been active since 2008 and founded in 2007? Of course, not every business can last forever. But I fail to see any reason Dropbox would be going anywhere anytime soon.

If Microsoft and Apple continue improving their own storage services and integrate them further with their other services then the Dropbox account you have becomes a lot less valuable.

ingramator said,

That's exactly right. Startups the come up quickly also often die quickly. They have their time in the sun then flounder away to the back benches of the technology world like (my favourite example) IBM. Once at the forefront of technology now little more then a patent factory in third world countries.


Strange as IBM developed the CPU's in both current gen Xbox and Playstation.
They also still build massive mainframes, develop an OS with as little overhead as possible and a ton more things.
IBM is still there and still active. Be it not so much in the spotlights anymore. Also don't forget, back then, you didn't had tons of technological companies, you basically had IBM and that was pretty much it until Apple and Microsoft came along.

i believe IBM is still a big player especially in the field of research. maybe they are not on the shiny stage such as Apple, but at least their research has some deeper value instead of putting out new phones and tablets every year. lets be honest, that is kinda dumb even if largely demanded.

That "little startup" has given me 50GB+ free for life and has had me a customer since it's inception. Way to make yourself sound like a complete fool!

nekkidtruth said,
That "little startup" has given me 50GB+ free for life and has had me a customer since it's inception. Way to make yourself sound like a complete fool!

But he's right? It may be an excellent cloud storage and synchronisation service but the truth is that the company is a startup and comparatively small to Microsoft and as he said he wasn't beating them, just inferring they have better and more widespread services!

nekkidtruth said,
That "little startup" has given me 50GB+ free for life and has had me a customer since it's inception. Way to make yourself sound like a complete fool!

Not sure how that makes them any bigger then a little start up. in fact, thats what start up's and smaller business usually do. Sweet talk the customers and give them great offers until they get bigger and then they slowly start to ignore what the customer wants in favor of profits, edge towards removing what they can again to create more profit. Its the name of business..

However, in saying that. I don't actually see drop box as a "little startup" in that sense, on the grand scale of things they are a little company if you look at the likes of Microsoft's data centers for skydrive. Right now, even as a Skydrive user myself, it feels more people are using dropbox then ever and I'm personally going to put that down to the free space samsung android owners were flawnting when they got their new phones.....
Without numbers though, its all about perception. I'd be nice to see some drive space, usage, active accounts, data in and out every month etc so we can really see who is the minority.
In related news, Ballmer just keeps coming across as an ass.

ingramator said,

But he's right? It may be an excellent cloud storage and synchronisation service but the truth is that the company is a startup and comparatively small to Microsoft and as he said he wasn't beating them, just inferring they have better and more widespread services!

Except, he's not right. How many startups (in this particular sector of the technology industry) do you know that have/had signed deals with companies such as Sony Ericsson and Samsung, within it's first 2 years of life? Reached 100 million users within 4 years of life? These things are hardly "little startup" milestones. Dropbox is in a position to purchase rather than be purchased. I think the above says quite a bit about how insanely arrogant (also read as ignorant) Ballmer is.

For new users, skydrive have more than double the free storage and I think it cost about half the price on the paid storage.
Personally I never understood the "advantage" of dropbox.

The advantage of drop-box is it came first.

I use google drive, dropbox & skydrive (Free space!) and I can say without flinching that skydrive is the best service of the three.

I am a bit biased from having a windows phone, but the sharing options are great, you can stream mp4 video, I can browse my entire desktops contents from anywhere... It's amazing.

The advantage is that it's cross platform. I can sync my files on Windows, Android, Mac, Linux, etc. You can recover deleted files for 30 days. There are great sharing capabilities on it as well which go hand in hand with the cross platform abilities.

I really don't think Balmer is trying to belittle Dropbox. Poor choice of words or candid? Perhaps. Then again, people will find anything negative or over analyze what people might say these days.

As for Skydrive, it will become more significant due to Office 365 consumer versions.

If you heard the reporter that was interviewing him, he was very naïve about comparing MS to Dropbox as if they were similar companies. I do think Ballmer needs to go out of his way to be more diplomatic, but the reporter was comparing apples to oranges.

I, like so many I know, have a DropBox account with free 2GB storage that I never use. I primarily use SkyDrive due to also having a Windows Phone but also use Windows desktops at home & work.

nekkidtruth said,
That "little startup" has given me 50GB+ free for life and has had me a customer since it's inception. Way to make yourself sound like a complete fool!

Except that's it's about raw numbers.

Microsoft Revenue - $75 billion
Dropbox Revenue - $0.25 billion.

PotatoJ said,
The advantage is that it's cross platform. I can sync my files on Windows, Android, Mac, Linux, etc. You can recover deleted files for 30 days. There are great sharing capabilities on it as well which go hand in hand with the cross platform abilities.
Just so we're clear how many people require that many platforms supported? But more importantly I'm assuming you've never researched skydrive at all:

https://apps.live.com/skydrive

Sure there is no desktop application for Linux. But that's of no concern to 98% of the world. Quite frankly, Android/Mac/iOS is better served at the moment than Windows Modern. In general anybody spewing what you lay out is nothing but FUD or ignorance.

nekkidtruth said,
Except, he's not right. How many startups (in this particular sector of the technology industry) do you know that have/had signed deals with companies such as Sony Ericsson and Samsung, within it's first 2 years of life? Reached 100 million users within 4 years of life? These things are hardly "little startup" milestones. Dropbox is in a position to purchase rather than be purchased. I think the above says quite a bit about how insanely arrogant (also read as ignorant) Ballmer is.
You are right about those contracts but there are amazing amounts of Cloud Storage companies that have come, risen to popularity, and died or been bought up in the past.

Go ahead and tell me what these guys website looks like: http://www.xdrive.com they were shell integrated a long time ago at a reasonable price.

Right now, their profitability hasn't been disclosed and the most recent numbers I've seen (2011) are revenue of 240m yearly. And about the same time it was mentioned that they've received 270m in funding. By no means do i think they are a rock solid company. They are still in the rock-star phase with investors. At some point those investors are going to want a return and that return can only be realized through dividends or being able to sell their ownership for a healthy return.

So yes.... they are a start up and only kids would call them anything else.

jimmyfal said,
If you heard the reporter that was interviewing him, he was very naïve about comparing MS to Dropbox as if they were similar companies. I do think Ballmer needs to go out of his way to be more diplomatic, but the reporter was comparing apples to oranges.

I have not seen the interview, but I know what you are refering to. I've seen intervier out ther that just want to get to the buttom of things without any consideration on how they would ask the question or even trying to ask a leading question just to get the answer. In this case, Ballmer just did it right then.

It was just like when Nick Saban, Alabama Football Headcoach; he was asked last year on why he doesn't allow his freshmen do interviews, and the question came with an insult to his policy regarding on that matter - Saban deflected the question, and pretty much made the person look like a fool. When he was asked a few months later with the same question, but a direct question, he gave the appropriate answer.

Roll Tide Roll!

Just so we're clear how many people require that many platforms supported? But more importantly I'm assuming you've never researched skydrive at all:
https://apps.live.com/skydrive

Sure there is no desktop application for Linux. But that's of no concern to 98% of the world. Quite frankly, Android/Mac/iOS is better served at the moment than Windows Modern. In general anybody spewing what you lay out is nothing but FUD or ignorance.

You're being silly now. Nothing I said was false. In fact, Dropbox is better supported on Windows, has fewer requirements, and works on more versions.

https://www.dropbox.com/help/3/en
https://apps.live.com/skydrive...606a-4816-a246-90f54bf7a3ea

For people like me who share with a variety of different people, Dropbox is really a no brainer.

Edited by yekGLzhQ4Qju1FtAVcC4, Jan 31 2013, 3:21pm :

PotatoJ said,
You're being silly now. Nothing I said was false. In fact, Dropbox is better supported on Windows, has fewer requirements, and works on more versions.

https://www.dropbox.com/help/3/en
https://apps.live.com/skydrive...606a-4816-a246-90f54bf7a3ea

For people like me who share with a variety of different people, Dropbox is really a no brainer.

The only os you can't sync is Linux. Which is insanely isignificant, Outside of that Dropbox supports Windows XP and Server 2003 and 50% more mac users, which are only a slightly bigger marketshare than the Linux desktop footprint.

In the end, your statement is FUD. A user on a recently release OS and on all mobile platforms can access Skydrive. Linux users, people still running xp and those poor Mac users who are forced to stay on 10.6 because Apple doesn't support their hardware are the only ones who fit into your story, and of those the only significant number is windows XP and they re on a 12 year old operating system.

Also, your links are evidence of more FUD:
Skydrive on Android v2.3+ (Dropbox v2.1+)
https://apps.live.com/skydrive...6c8e-425f-8bfa-f3b23ecda296

Skydrive on IOS v4.0+ (Dropbox v4.3+)
https://apps.live.com/skydrive...5756-43df-9cb9-61434ca23235

Skydrive on Mac OSX v10.7+ (Dropbox v10.4+)
https://apps.live.com/skydrive...9f98-4d1b-a3d2-eab969b0fd44

Skydrive for Linux N/A (Dropbox, hope you're on the right flavor).

Edited by MrHumpty, Feb 1 2013, 12:41am :