Ballmer is closer to being crazy than he is capable of being a tech CEO. In the above-linked article, you can see the classic YouTube video where Ballmer disses the original iPhone. A big handful of iPhones later, he's still talking smack. Just the other day, he quipped, I don't think anyone has done a product that I see customers wanting. The hits continued this week when Ballmer spewed:
In every category Apple competes, it's the low-volume player, except in tablets. In the PC market, obviously the advantage of diversity has mattered since 90-something percent of PCs that get sold are Windows PCs. We'll see what winds up mattering in tablets. (story via the Wall Street Journal)Is Ballmer trying to bring an NHL franchise to Seattle? Is he involved in the stalled hockey lockout negotiations? So much about the guy prompts sad and pathetic memories of former Research in Motion ( RIMM) co-CEO Jim You don't need an app to access the Web Balsillie. Disingenuous. Blind. Out of touch with reality. Ballmer and Balsillie -- not to be confused with ballers -- separated at birth. Calling Apple a "low-volume player." That's all of the above and, in particular, disingenuous. First, Ballmer forgot about the iPod. Apple has probably sold more Shuffles than Microsoft did Zunes. Second, if Apple allowed anybody to use iOS for a song and a dance, leading to the proliferation of smartphones that run the gamut in quality and price, they would not be "low-volume" in the category. Ballmer really smacks of Balsillie when he boasts about Windows PC penetration. The trend is your friend, brother. Ballsillie never acknowledged that -- he was almost as smug and arrogant as Ballmer -- and look what happened at RIM. We'll see what winds up mattering in tablets. That's not an idle threat, only because Microsoft is making something that resembles an attempt to compete. However, at the end of the day, it all comes back to one thing. Apple has absolutely schooled Microsoft for how long now? Ballmer should be able to see several carcasses, particularly RIM's and Nokia's ( NOK), decaying on the side of the road. In the eyes of Apple -- and shareholders should wish the MSFT Board -- Ballmer's is next. So, shut up, put your head down, execute this plan of yours and absolutely stop setting yourself up to look like a complete fool again.
I understand the idea of being aggressive. Of going after the competition, particularly at a time when it's not crazy to call Apple vulnerable. I use that word "relative" to Tim Cook's comparatively smooth first year on the job and Steve Jobs's near flawless second tenure at the helm. Actions speak louder than words, especially when you operate from a position of weakness. If you're doing it right, others are going to start talking trash for you. Ultimately, you will have customers and stockholders defend you till the death like the current crop of loyal Apple fanboys. AIDA. ABC. Attention. Interest. Decision. Action. Always. Be. Closing. That's what Ballmer needs to be doing now, but not with the media and a public that stopped caring about Microsoft a long time ago. Shoppers -- from corporations and the enterprise -- are walking into the store. They're not doing it to get out of the rain. Close them! Focus on bringing Microsoft back to the level of respectability it enjoyed with Gates as leader. Take action by sacrificing Steve Sinofsky if you have to, getting on the phone, swallowing your pride, offering Scott Forstall whatever he wants to become CEO. then step into the background as vice chairman or something. That would take more of a shot at, start more of a war with and send a louder message to Apple than all of the babbling Ballmer has done over the last five years. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this article.