Mike Ricciuti, CNET News.com, had a chance to sit down and chat with Steve Ballmer about Life after Vista and on page 3 of the conversation we find some talk about mobile devices. When asked to talk a bit more about Windows Mobile, Ballmer stated:
When it comes to smart devices, there really aren't that many players. Basically, you have Nokia/Symbian, you've got us. Actually, I'll be so bold as to say that the two of us stand out in that area. Then you have some guys who are more niche players--Palm is more of a niche player, (Research In Motion's) BlackBerry is more of a niche player, those Linux devices from Motorola, particularly in China, (mean it) is more of a niche player.
He was obviously talking about the Palm OS and not Palm hardware since Windows Mobile is now running on Palm branded Treo devices. The Palm OS is available now on the Treo 700p and 680.
If you read the conversation a bit more you'll see that he thinks BlackBerry is more of a niche player because they are mostly popular in the U.S., but not as big of a player in the other areas of the world. BlackBerry devices have also been popular with the enterprise, but with Nokia and Windows Mobile now both supporting push email solutions BlackBerry doesn't have a lock on this functionality. Nokia is the dominate player in smartphones throughout the world and Windows Mobile is making significant strides as well. Ballmer also thinks Apple's upcoming iPhone will be in a similar class to the Palm Treo and BlackBerry.
Ballmer acknowledged they have a lot of work to do with the Microsoft Zune, but he is happy with the initial response. I was pleased to hear again that Microsoft is behind the Zune and has plans for long term solutions.