Ballmer skeptical of Android as Microsoft competitor

Ballmer skeptical of Android as Microsoft competitor

It's becoming an annual tradition. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is again telling the world that the newest mobile OS is a big mistake. This time around Ballmer suggests Google's Android will be a failure:

Speaking at Telstra's annual investment day, Ballmer said designing Android wasn't easy for Google. "They can hire smart guys, hire a lot of people, blah dee blah dee blah, but you know they start out way behind, in a certain sense," he said.

[...]"Google doesn't exactly bubble to the top of the list of the top competitors we've got going in mobile. They might someday. But right now..." he said.

If you're getting a sense of deja vu, you're not alone. Last year Ballmer made similar comments about Apple's iPhone:

There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It's a US$500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I'd prefer to have our software in 60 or 70 or 80 percent of them, than I would to have 2 or 3 percent, which is what Apple might get.

He probably regrets that comment now. By the end Q4 Apple had grabbed 28 percent of the US smartphone market, ahead of Microsoft Windows Mobile at 21 percent. By June 2008 the iPhone was third in global market share, after Nokia and RIM. And last quarter Apple outsold RIM.

Market share for Windows Mobile is decreasing, seemingly passed over in favor of cooler platforms like the iPhone and Android. That's not the only gloomy spot for Microsoft -- the company has apparently done little to capitalize on its acquisition earlier this year of Sidekick maker Danger.

As for Android, Ballmer's negative forecast neglected to mention early sales. The first Android phone -- the T-Mobile G1 -- will reportedly ship 600,000 units by the end of the year. That's not as big as the iPhone, but it isn't exactly a failure, either.

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