Microsoft CEO: Google has taken a failed approach to tablets

By on May 27, 2011, 8:30 AM

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer this week spoke during the opening ceremony of the headquarters building of the Microsoft Asia-Pacific R&D Group in Beijing, China. He talked about a lot of things, but one particular quote jumped out at us.

Ballmer took a swipe at Google, saying the company "has taken a failed approach so far" to tablets. At the same time, he acknowledged that Apple's strategy with the iPad has been successful, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Google hasn't been doing very well in the tablet space with its Android operating system so far, while Apple continues to push forward with the iPad. Still, the search giant is working hard to tweak the software it offers to its partners.

Earlier this month, it released Android 3.1 (codenamed Honeycomb), an update to Android 3.0 (codenamed Honeycomb), the tablet-specific version of Google's mobile OS. Both have the same codename because Google acknowledges there isn't much difference between the two versions; it's mostly just enhancements and improvements.

Microsoft may not be failing as Google is, but that's because it doesn't yet offer a tablet-specific OS. The software giant is hoping to change that with Windows 8, which is rumored to have two user interfaces, a new fast hibernation system, and be able to intelligently manage an SSD.

That's great and all, but many are wondering whether the software giant is going to be able to successfully play catch-up. Even if Google's mobile OS is arguably not great for tablets yet, there are already projections for Android tablets to overtake the iPad, just like Android smartphones overtook the iPhone. Will Microsoft have to struggle to grab third place, like it currently is trying with Windows Phone?




User Comments: 17

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example1013 said:

This guy is one to talk, since he's so far lost to Apple in the MP3 player market and the smartphone market, doesn't have shit in the tablet market, and managed to somehow still possibly get beaten in the netbook market despite the fact that Apple didn't even put out a netbook (because the netbook market seems to have largely crashed in favor of iPad and other tablets, although this is conjecture and I can't actually back this up with facts).

Meanwhile Google has made a largely successful competitor smartphone OS, but it's taken them a couple of years to finally knock off iOS, and has only very recently come out with a competitor tablet OS, and will likely take a while to really steal market share from Apple there, too, since Apple got such a head start.

Guest said:

I agree with everything you said, except that Google bought Android, therefore that is not really a fair comparison. They did not do any R&D or develop the product. They bought it, gave it away for free and gained market share. As we are seeing now, it worked for them but the OS is now fragmented and inconsistent. We have no idea where the future lies with Android and eventually they will have to start charging for it due to off of the IP infringments. But you do make a great point. Microsoft has to at least offer a product before Mr. Ballmer can beat up on his competitors.

example1013 said:

Perhaps the guy who said Ballmer needs to go is right. Ever since Ballmer took over, Microsoft has been on the losing end of every new technology, going back to like 2001 with the iPod.

Guest said:

Poor Ballmer, TechSpot favors the "monkey boy" picture again.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Ok, wait... Google took their successful mobile OS and revamped it for the larger tablet form factor, and products using it are just recently rolling out. Apple took their successful mobile OS and tweaked it up for the larger form factor of the iPad. Yet, Google is failing, and Apple is succeeding? Granted, Apple did it first, and it's been a race to compete since then. But, the big part of Apple's success is that they are a hardware company AND software company - they have complete control of their products. Google doesn't have that luxury.

How can Ballmer claim Google is failing, when Microsoft is pretty much following the exact same path that they did? Tweaking and developing their OS into something that is more tablet friendly and can compete more directly with iOS, while 3rd party companies build the hardware that will run this new OS. Seriously, how does he justify taking pot shots at Google, when Microsoft is obviously so very VERY late in the consumer tablet game? They have been in serious catch-up mode in smartphones, and now in tablets - not thinking casting stones is a great idea there, Stevie...

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Talks the talk but anyone could have told MS the interface was bad for tablets years ago.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

example1013 said:

This guy is one to talk, since he's so far lost to Apple in the MP3 player market and the smartphone market, doesn't have shit in the tablet market, and managed to somehow still possibly get beaten in the netbook market despite the fact that Apple didn't even put out a netbook (because the netbook market seems to have largely crashed in favor of iPad and other tablets, although this is conjecture and I can't actually back this up with facts).

Meanwhile Google has made a largely successful competitor smartphone OS, but it's taken them a couple of years to finally knock off iOS, and has only very recently come out with a competitor tablet OS, and will likely take a while to really steal market share from Apple there, too, since Apple got such a head start.

Lost? That would suggest they actually tried to complete. They pretty much release products and then do little to nothing to support them. Take the Zune for example, they release it in the US only for 3 years before releasing it to other markets.

example1013 said:

Tekkaraiden said:

Lost? That would suggest they actually tried to complete. They pretty much release products and then do little to nothing to support them. Take the Zune for example, they release it in the US only for 3 years before releasing it to other markets.

All the more reason for Ballmer to stop talking smack.

Guest said:

Why always that picture of Ballmer?

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

This picture would be much better: [link]

stewi0001 stewi0001 said:

yea that picture looks like he belongs in secert service or something...

anyways I do not really care how companys talk smack on their compeitors, it makes me feel that they can't say anything good about them self so lets be little someone else to make us feel better.

Sounds like bulling, right?

DokkRokken said:

marioestrada said:

This picture would be much better: [link]

I think Engadget has dibs on that one. :P

Guest said:

"This picture would be much better: [link]"

Oh, I get it, the first picture is Ballmer with money and the second one is Ballmer without it.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Vrmithrax said:

Ok, wait... Google took their successful mobile OS and revamped it for the larger tablet form factor, and products using it are just recently rolling out. Apple took their successful mobile OS and tweaked it up for the larger form factor of the iPad. Yet, Google is failing, and Apple is succeeding? Granted, Apple did it first, and it's been a race to compete since then. But, the big part of Apple's success is that they are a hardware company AND software company - they have complete control of their products. Google doesn't have that luxury.

How can Ballmer claim Google is failing, when Microsoft is pretty much following the exact same path that they did? Tweaking and developing their OS into something that is more tablet friendly and can compete more directly with iOS, while 3rd party companies build the hardware that will run this new OS. Seriously, how does he justify taking pot shots at Google, when Microsoft is obviously so very VERY late in the consumer tablet game? They have been in serious catch-up mode in smartphones, and now in tablets - not thinking casting stones is a great idea there, Stevie...

Apple is not a hardware company. Apple is simply a designer.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Apple is not a hardware company. Apple is simply a designer.

Have to beg to differ on that one. Apple considers themselves a hardware company, they have since the early computer days (where they got their start, as a hardware company). You cannot buy Apple hardware that is not a direct result of Apple design, development, and approved manufacturing. You can't buy Apple hardware directly from the manufacturer that Apple has approved to build that hardware. Just because Apple outsources the actual production of the equipment, that does not preclude them from being considered a hardware company - they are just not a hardware MANUFACTURING company. Subtle difference.

Guest said:

@Vrmithrax Have to beg to differ on that one. Apple considers themselves a hardware company, they have since the early computer days (where they got their start, as a hardware company). You cannot buy Apple hardware that is not a direct result of Apple design, development, and approved manufacturing. You can't buy Apple hardware directly from the manufacturer that Apple has approved to build that hardware. Just because Apple outsources the actual production of the equipment, that does not preclude them from being considered a hardware company - they are just not a hardware MANUFACTURING company. Subtle difference.

You are right, they are not a hardware manufacturing company... they are a hardware designing company... again, subtle difference.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

You are right, they are not a hardware manufacturing company... they are a hardware designing company... again, subtle difference.

I'm sorry, did you even bother to read my posts? Yes, you are right, Apple is a hardware design company (which I acknowledged). But they also control every aspect of the manufacturing and distribution of any product with an Apple brand on it. AND they handle hardware support directly. That makes them a bit more than just a "designer" in many ways, don't you think? If you had actually stopped to consider the context of the entire conversation, you'd see that my assertion is that Apple is far more of a hardware company than either Microsoft and Google in the relevant markets where they were being compared. Which, again, makes Ballmer's comments that much more ludicrous: he's claiming Google has a failed approach, and Apple is a winner, yet Microsoft is actually much closer to paralleling Google's path.

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