Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer yesterday tip-toed around Australia's broadband debate but said that if the country was to engage in cloud computing business that telcos and the government needed to 'get on with' delivering high speed broadband — at a fair price.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Just hours after joining Telstra's CEO Sol Trujillo on stage for the telco's investor day at the Sydney Hilton, Ballmer gave a second talk to over 1,000 Australian developers at Microsoft's Liberation Day at the Sydney Convention Centre.
During the Q & A session after Ballmer's lively speech, a student developer asked Ballmer how Australia was supposed to participate in cloud computing initiatives, such as Microsoft's Azure — a version of Windows for developers that runs over the internet — when Australia lacked fast broadband.
"Well... Let me try it this way," Ballmer said. "One of the things that's probably important for all of us to agree on before I get myself in trouble, which I will do before I'm done: at the end of the day, the world is going to move to a world of cloud, server and device. But it's not going to move in two months," he said.
"Now, with that said," he continued. "What's the best thing in the world? The best thing in the world is to be in a place where you can get high, high, high speed broadband at a... at a fair price. And be able to do that in a way that allows you to be either fixed or mobile."
Ballmer went on to applaud Telstra's announcement earlier in the day that it would deliver 21Mbps wireless speeds. "Hey, that's world leading, on a global scale, to be moving ahead with high speed mobile. I think that's fantastic," he said.
However, he admitted that the intensity of the broadband debate in Australia like nothing else he had seen in the world.
"I gather there's a whole big debate between government, telecoms, blah, blah, blah. I hear about it more in Australia than in any other place in the world and rather than put my foot deep in the political mud around that topic, I'll just give encouragement to who wants to listen: whatever needs to happen to allow this to move forward in Australia, it's time get on with it," he said.
The developers applauded and cheered at Ballmer's comments.
"The world is moving to a world of broadband cloud based computing," he said. "I'm sure that between Telstra and their competitors, and the government, I'm sure it will get worked out. Let's all hope that it's real soon," he said.Developers ask Ballmer for iPhone, Facebook cash code
Ballmer also answered another developer who had aired his question to ZDNet.com.au earlier this week.
Sydney-based Silverlight and Adobe Flex/AIR developer Jose Fajardo had asked Ballmer whether Microsoft would introduce similar financial models to developers to that for Facebook or Apple's iPhone. Each company allows developers to distribute applications to a broader audience by utilising the web for exposure, distribution and sales — a move that Microsoft has yet to make.
"Making money is a very good thing. I think everybody likes the idea of making money. Now, it turns out that some of the competitive opportunities that the questioner mentioned — I don't think anybody's making money," he said.
"But I actually will agree that there's some good work we see, particularly at Facebook and also with the iPhone, where both of these companies have made it easier to distribute their applications," he said.
"It's not any easier than freeware but it is actually easier to get exposure for your application. Now there's not much money being made, but the general concept of giving developers a way of not only getting their code distributed but to get visibility for their code," he said.
Ballmer said Microsoft had debated long and hard prior to its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles earlier this month whether it should disclose its plans in the area.
"We decided the answer was 'not ready to talk about those yet'. But fear not, we're hard at work, we do see some benefits in some of the concepts, particularly in Facebook," he said.