Tag Archives | Steve Ballmer

Video Conferencing on Your Wrist, LG Style

I’m at the LG Mobile press conference at Mobile World Congress, where an LG exec just made the first public video call from one of the company’s watch phones (or is that phone watches?). Who’s that on the display? It’s a tad fuzzy in this image, so I understand if you guess Dick Tracy…but it’s really none other than Mr. Steve Ballmer.

LG Watch


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Another Day, Another Keynote: Live Coverage of Steve Ballmer at CES

I’m  liveblogging as Steve Ballmer does the Consumer Electronics Show keynote. C’mon and join me….

CES 2009 Steve Ballmer Keynote


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Dueling Keynotes: Phil Schiller at Macworld Expo vs. Steve Ballmer at CES

(if you came here looking for our live coverage of the Macworld Expo 2009 keynote, head over here.)

Macworld Expo 2009 Phil Schiller Keynote


Next week will see two tech trade show presentations by guys who are following very tough acts: Phil Schiller’s first (and last) Macworld Expo San Francisco keynote and Steve Ballmer’s first (and probably not last) Consumer Electronics Show one. Maybe I have a soft spot for underdogs–albeit extremely wealthy ones–but I’m actually looking forward to attending and covering both gentlemen’s speeches. (Trivia: I never went to any of the many, many keynotes by Bill Gates at Comdex and CES conferences that I covered.) I’ve already written a bit about the two keynotes; after the jump, a more formal comparison in the form of a T-Grid.

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Schiller vs. Ballmer: The Inevitable, Unexpected Keynote Smackdown

Phil Schiller and Steve BallmerMind if I state the obvious? Steve Jobs is the undisputed master of the tech-product keynote, and if there’s anyone who’s a very distant second place, it sure ain’t Bill Gates. Yet the only other tech keynote that’s got any history to it other than the Jobs Macworld Expo ritual has been the Bill Gates keynote in Las Vegas, a tradition even more venerable than the Macworld Expo Stevenote. It even outlasted Comdex, the show it was given at–Gates simply transferred his act to CES.

But with Gates’ retirement from active duty at Microsoft, next month’s CES will be headlined by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. He’ll give keynote on Wednesday, January 7th–the day after Phil Schiller gives his first and final presentation as Steve Jobs’ substitute at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. In two days, we’ll see two changings of the keynote guard at the only two keynotes that ever mattered.

Jobs and Gates: The two most iconic entrepreneurs that tech has produced to date. Schiller and Ballmer? Not iconic. It’s like seeing Marlin Perkins sidekick Jim Fowler take over Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom the same week that Ed McMahon assumes the duties of hosting The Tonight Show.

In the era of Jobs and Gates, you didn’t have to give a nanosecond’s thought to who would give the more impressive presentation. With Schiller vs. Ballmer, it’s a tougher call. We’ve seen both of them do demos before, but the spotlight has never shined on them quite as brightly as it will in three weeks.

Who will be the new king of the conference keynote? (Yes, I know that Schiller plans to abdicate after one morning.) You’ve got me, but as we prepare to answer that question, we can at least prep ourselves by analyzing existing footage of the two execs ‘ communication styles.

Schiller:

Ballmer:

Schiller:

Ballmer:

Schiller:

Ballmer:

So who would you rather watch at work next month? So help me, I may witness both in person…


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Zune Features Headed To Windows Mobile

Okay so it might not be true Zune phone per se, but Microsoft does have designs to put Zune functionality in its Windows Mobile operating system soon. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made the comments to British IT magazine CIO when asked why the company had created the music player in the first place.

“We built the Zune hardware with the Zune software – and what you’ll see more and more over time is that the Zune software will also be ported to and be more important not just with the hardware but on the PC, on Windows Mobile devices, etc.”

This is the first time that I can remember Ballmer specificially admitting the company had some interest in developing some type of “Zune phone.” All his previous comments, as far back as April of last year, have indicated the company had no interest.

I’d be willing to be the widespread success of the iPhone has changed that, and now with other competitors such as Nokia also moving to compete, not at least attempting to compete may be a bad idea for Microsoft.

Let us be clear here though: Microsoft is not going to develop or manufacture this phone themselves. But if these statements are to be taken at its face value, it sees to indicate Redmond will not stand in the way of any manufacturer who may be interested in launching a Zune phone.,


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Ballmer: Microsoft Not Immune to Financial Crisis

These probably were not the type of questions Steve Ballmer was expecting to answer. At a stop in Oslo to talk about Microsoft’s acquisition of Norwegian-based Fast Search, reporters seemed more interested in any possible ramifications for the world’s largest software company due to the ongoing financial crisis.

Ballmer warned that as the financial crisis deepens, businesses and consumers alike will further cut spending. Obviously, the worst effects would be across the financial services industry, hit the hardest by the current crisis.

“We have a lot of business with the corporate sector as well as with the consumer sector and whatever happens economically will certainly effect itself on Microsoft,” he told Reuters in an interview. “I think one has to anticipate that no company is immune to these issues.”

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Ballmer Ties His Retirement to Live Search Success

Many had assumed the Ballmer era would end when his youngest child goes off to college, roughly in about a decade or so: he even hinted to that effect himself. Despite these earlier comments, the ever outspoken executive now seems to be quite frustrated over the apparent failures of Live Search, and will stay on until it becomes a success.

According to commenters in this post on Mini-Microsoft, and subsequently confirmed by Mary Jo Foley, Ballmer told employees that he would stay on as head of the company until Live Search’s market share bests Google’s.

The comment is almost unbelievable on its face. Does Ballmer really think that Microsoft will be able to turn its search fortunes around? As it stands right now, the company is going the wrong way. Web analytics firm comScore posted numbers Thursday that showed Live Search continues to lose share in the US.

For August, Microsoft garnered a 8.3 percent share, down .6 percent, while Google gained over 1 percent to finish with 63 percent of the market. Its share of queries also took a hit, down 7 percent over the previous month to 977 million. This marks the first time since May that the company has fallen below a billion queries, and follows a period where Microsoft had shown some growth.

I just cannot see at this point any viable way — short of monopolistic behavior — that will allow Microsoft to come anywhere close to equaling Google’s share of the market, much less surpass it. Maybe the Justice Department’s new-found interest in Google’s advertising practices and the threat of antitrust action may help Microsoft out, but I doubt it will do much.

Maybe the answer to whether we should really believe that Ballmer means what he says lies in understanding the man himself. Those who have watched him all know that he’s been known to make some pretty crazy statements, and his enthusiasm has been known to get the best of him at times, so maybe its best to keep in mind that this may be one of those cases. You never know, however.


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Exclusive: The Seinfeld/Ballmer TV Ads We Didn’t Get to See

I know I’ve written about this before, and I don’t mean to harp, but to me the most interesting thing about the new Windows ad campaign is not that it costars Jerry Seinfeld, but that it costars Bill Gates. It was only slightly over two months ago that Gates retired from Microsoft with a barrage of nostalgic fanfare. I kind of thought that his departure would initiate a changing of the guard that would involve him stepping back as the public face of the company after thirty-three years.

It wasn’t that I thought we’d never see him represent Microsoft again…just that he might take a breather and let Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, or other execs step into the spotlight, as it were. They may not represent a fresh new face for Microsoft, but they’re the guys who are responsible for the company’s present and future. (Gates may be unshakably synonymous with Microsoft, but he also represents its past.)

So when the news about Seinfeld/Gates broke, my first thought was this: What if the ads had costarred Seinfeld and Steve Ballmer? It wasn’t such a crazy thought–the man is, after all, the CEO of the company, and he’s anything but shy and retiring. And then it hit me: Thanks to the miracle of modern video technology, I didn’t have to wonder about Seinfeld/Ballmer Windows commercials. With enough painstaking effort, I could create a reconstruction that would reveal with uncanny precision what such ads would have looked and sounded like.

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