Ballmer Says iPad Is a PC

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Microsoft. Amid all the product news about Windows Live, Windows and Google, Office Web Apps, Kin phones, Bing Maps, and the like, the media has been buzzing about Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) passing the Redmond, WA, software firm Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  )  in terms of market capitalization for the first time, making it the world’s top technology company in that respect. Apple is now worth $239 billion, versus $235 billion for Microsoft, as of Thursday’s closing stock price.

So, of course, now everyone is asking Microsoft’s top brass about its longstanding competition with Apple. Here are a couple of snippets from Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie, and Bill Gates that I found noteworthy today (I encourage you to watch/read the interviews in their entirety, as there are other gems in there):

Speaking at the D8 conference in California today with journalist Walt Mossberg, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said his company’s main competitors are Apple, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) , VMware (NYSE: VMW  ) , and open source. When talk turned to Apple’s iPad, Ballmer said he considers it a PC, and that the idea of what a PC is has evolved. “You’re going to have a range of devices over time that are light and don’t have a keyboard and will run Windows,” he said. “This will be a real competitive form factor of innovation.”

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief software architect, added during the same chat, “I think there’s going to be success in a number of form factors––in the pad form factor, in the tablet mode. I think there will be appliance-like screens that will be in our living rooms. This isn’t science fiction anymore; it’s possible.”

On competing with Apple in the mobile sector, Ballmer said: “They’ve done a good job of coming from nowhere a few years ago. They’ve done the best job on the browser. People focus on the apps, but the browser is really the thing that has distinguished their phones from others.”

CNN’s Larry King asked Bill Gates (with his dad, Bill Gates Sr., sitting next to him) yesterday about Microsoft’s rivalry with Apple and Steve Jobs over the years. “We’ll compete, and that’s a great thing,” said the younger Gates. “They’ve done well; there was a period where it looked like they wouldn’t even survive. So the ups and downs of technology are incredible.”

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Gregory T. Huang is the editor of Xconomy Seattle. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call 206-624-2249.

Google and VMWare are Rule Breakers pick. Apple is a Stock Advisor recommendation. Microsoft is an Inside Value selection while Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call on Microsoft. The Motley Fool owns shares of Oracle and has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On June 04, 2010, at 5:16 PM, Turfscape wrote:

    Ballmer came off looking like an idiot at the D8 conference. He was completely dismissive of the idea of competition from Google or Apple. He was dismissive of the idea that computing trends are going away from full-form desktops and laptops to mobile devices. He proved himself to be delusional about the realities of the tech industry and where it's heading.

  • Report this Comment On June 04, 2010, at 7:03 PM, abare wrote:

    PC = ipad......and this guy makes millions!

  • Report this Comment On June 04, 2010, at 7:27 PM, midnightmoney wrote:

    Should I call the thing my cat just gacked up a hairball or a ball of hair?

    No matter, ipaddleoff to more important debates.

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2010, at 4:53 AM, jaketen2001 wrote:

    Ballmer is just doing what MSFT has always done. Day late a dollar short. After they reverse engineered their OS, and threatened to sue everyone that didn't install it, they spent the next 20 years reverse engineering every application they could. They wiffed on browsers, search engines, mps. Now they have stopped even swinging: no phone, no tablet/pad. Office is still a great suite, but that is all they have left. What I wonder is, when MSFT is about to go out of business, will Jobs return the favor and lend them 150 mil?

  • Report this Comment On June 07, 2010, at 4:23 PM, tonbar100 wrote:

    I don't think much of the ipad. It's at the crest of the wave but compared to my iphone I think it does not compare. The iphone offers all the same stuff and you can put it in your pocket. For using professional apps like Word, Excel, email, etc I would much rather use a slimline laptop. I really hate typing onto a glass screen, it just isn't comfortable. Microsoft have essentially transformed the world of computing for personal and business user over the last 20 years with their innovation and compelling products. They have reached a plateau over the last 5 years and if they are not careful will become a utility. However Apple's problem is how does niche and cool become mass market? It doesn't work does it? They will either need to up their prices to remain exclusive, or get down and dirty to become truly mass market - something they traditionally been great at (er, you want Flash - we don't do that).

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