If Steve Jobs was known for his reality distortion field and cool, calculated manner of presenting, Steve Ballmer is the polar opposite. Microsoft's CEO is known for his energy and enthusiasm. Sure, this is probably what the company needs in order to push its Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 platform forward. Chair-throwing incidents aside, Ballmer's “woo hoo” moments may just help rally Microsoft's troops forward in the ever-evolving battle for dominance in the mobile industry.
In an interview with LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman at a “tech influencers and innovators” event, Ballmer was at his usual self, acting as Microsoft's chief cheerleader, and boasting about how great and different the latest Windows platform is. At one point, he described the platform in words that may have been borrowed from another popular brand (we're looking at you, Apple). “Wow! It just works!”
Steve lauds the Surface user interface, which he describes as “different,” although he says current sales were modest, at best. Excitement aside, one of the highlights in this interview was how the Microsoft CEO had described the company's two biggest competitors at this point, which are actually the dominant platforms in the mobile industry today. He says Android was “wild” and “uncontrolled,” particularly due to its fragmentation and malware problems.
“The ecosystem for Android is a little bit wild,” Ballmer notes, with reference to app incompatibilities across handsets and Android versions.
Meanwhile, Apple's iOS is “high priced” and too “highly controlled.” Ballmer also went on to make a stab at Apple, particularly with the latest criticism against the new iOS Maps app.
In his critique of Android and iOS, Ballmer thinks Microsoft can find the right middle-ground between control and freedom in the company's latest platforms: Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Surface. He highlights that Microsoft is working closely with developers and partners, something that he thinks Apple and Google are lacking at this point.
What may be interesting at this point is that the Microsoft CEO might have hinted that Microsoft may be developing its own smartphone hardware. Ballmer says Microsoft wants to take better control of hardware creation. “If we see an opportunity in the software/hardware seam, we’re going to take it.”
As for the statements on Android, do you agree that the platform is “wild” and “uncontrolled?” Has Android's success in the market been marred with the side-effect that is fragmentation and the rise of malware?