Ballmer tells Oz: get with the broadband

Ballmer tells Oz: get with the broadband

Summary: 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'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
(Credit: Microsoft)

For the full video of Ballmer's Sydney speech click here.

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 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.

Topics: Broadband, Software, Telcos, Telstra, NBN

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Naught Naughty

    Ballmer was in quite a spot, wasnt he? It is difficult to express your feelings regarding the topic, when your mate across the road is trying to increase prices and kill competition, but he did his best. We agree with you Steve, it is time to get on with building a national broadband network for the people of Australia, to offer them world class bandwidth, quota's and prices. Hear hear!
  • Agreed

    "building a national broadband network for the people of Australia"

    I couldn't agree more. I hope the NBN is build with the people of Australia in mind, not the Telstra Shareholders (which sadly includes myself)...
  • *GASP*!

    its okay anoymous, your already on the 1st step to recovery, admitting the problem... telstra shares... rofl, might be good to have a few shares though, as a telstra basher, if i had the spare cash I sure would like a few 1000 telstra shares, you know, try and sway the company to a more...nicer, business model
  • Greed!

    While i think it would be obvious to everyone here i feel that i must point out your obvious exterior motives... I personally think you would have telstra shares for the knowledge that for once you'd be helping australia instead of your foregein masters bloptus, but alas they dont payyou to write that do they? so instead you try to hide behind your desire to help tesltra by deriding it, its alright, telstra is strong enough to go on without you...
  • Smarter than Jobs

    Whilst I baulk at supporting Tesltra, I do applaud Ballmer's comments on the need to get with it in the Broadband world. He didn't come out looking like a fool spouting off about something he doesn't know, like Steve Jobs did recently with his comments on broadband caps.
  • Telstra epitomizes greed

    Calling names now Mr Lawrence? True professional. Can you explain how Telstra is helping Australia, because they appear to be in court fighting the Government, whom is using our tax dollars to defend their rulings. It is a sad state of affairs really. The people pay Telstra, the people pay tax, and they then square off. Isnt progress fantastic!
  • "True Competition"

    idiot!! I suppose you would rather support foreign owned SINGTEL/OPTUS. Stop the foreign "sponge off" they have enjoyed under Howard/Coonan and get behind Conroy/Telstra.

    Only serious choice has to be Telstra. Australia needs a world class NBN NOW!!!

    What we need is "True Competition" like in mobiles where everyone invests instead of just Telstra!!
  • @agreed

    shareholder - bs.
  • Temper Temper..

    I had quite a giggle at the idea that Telstra is friendly with Conroy and the Government. Why did Telstra call on Conroy to stop dithering and wasting money? Why have they threatened to not bid unless Conroy ceases all talk of separation?

    Why does it come down to who we are 'supporting'? Nothing in your home or on your back in made in Australia, why so patriotic now? I'll tell you what I support Sir, affordable broadband, high bandwidth/quota's and no Internet censorship. You may enjoy paying twice as much to Telstra, but dont forget, more money heads over seas through Telstra than Optus, period. Perhaps if Telstra is such an Australian company, they could try employing an Australian instead of Americans and Indians.
  • but alas they dont payyou to write that do they?

    Jeeze Sydney your standards are starting to sink
    Is the pressure/reality getting to much for you

    For crying out loud Sydney Lawrence the only reason a person WOULD BUY SHARES in testra is to CHANGE it into something that is not the anti competitive egotistical monopoly that it is today.
    They would buy shares to change it into something that that might actually benefit the Australian economy and the Australian people + still make a profit for the share holders

    Oh but telstra keeps the money in Australia!
    BULL look at who owns shares (companies own most) who owns or part owns these companies ??
    Well lets just say that if you break it down then a HELL OF A LOT OF MONEY is going OVERSEAS
    Mr Lawrence I think you should question your masters every now and then
    I could supply links for you but as I am trying to get through a stuffed telstra rim (thanks telstra) the connection is too painful
    So I suggest you get of your own bum and check for yourself if you don't believe me
    Most people won't sell there shares as they would LOSE to much money as the prices are crap compared to when they (were conned) bought them
    THANKS SOL WE LOVE YOU TO but where's our cut?????
  • My enemy's enemy is my friend.

    MARV I have a Mini Me who Posts under my name ( although I do admit I agree with what he says) but I do question some (almost all) of your thoughts.

    It is a fact MARV that some people prefer to invest in Australian companies thereby supporting Australia and helping to keep Australians in employment.

    By your comments you are not one of them and fair enough this is a free country. I wonder MARV could you enlighten me as to what percentage of Telstra bashers have business interests opposed to Telstra.

    I can understand their fear of the competition that Telstra generates but as Mr. Ballmer advises we should forget our personal greed and get the NBN built for the benefit of all Australians.
  • Steve Ballmer smokes crack, allways has, allways will

    Cloud computing on the scale he is talking about is a myth. Somethings are better being located on the internet and somethings are not. Most people want control over their shit and cloud computing isnt going to give you that. I know I am not going to be doing sensitive stuff on other peoples equiment, who dont have my intersts at heart.
  • Re My enemy's enemy is my friend.

    Mr Lawrence
    Shall we agree to disagree on many things??
    BUT let us AGREE on what Mr. Ballmer said

    Mr. Ballmer advises we should forget our personal greed and get the NBN built for the benefit of all Australians.

    As this is a very rational and sensible thing to do .
    Though he should also have added " and our personal bias " to that statement
    you should try to contain mini me lest he does you a serious injustice
  • Pot calling the kettle black

    Before criticising Tel$tra, Mr Ballmer should first produce a reliable, robust operating system.... at a fair price.
  • The Irony

    My Lawrence, I'm curious as to your stance on supporting an Australian company to help preserve and create jobs. In the last three years, Sol has slashed 8,784 jobs, and has announced a plan to cut a further 3,216 before 2010. Could you please explain the discrepancy in your theory?

    On the up side Mr Lawrence;

    "You can take it to the bank that we are going to be growing earnings."

    "You can take it to the bank that we are going to be growing earnings margins."
  • Straight out of the union play book

    Well put - NOT!

    On one hand people want Telstra to be more efficient, to move into the 21st century and to be more price competitive.

    On the other hand people want it to keep the same level of employees as 10 years ago.

    Which one do you want?

    Ultimately technology will reduce the time required to do things, it will reduce duplication and it will reduce productivity. You either don't move with the times and don't take advantage of technology or you go full steam ahead and grab the opportunities with both hands.

    There are more people working in the communications industry then 20 years ago and there is more money being spent, it just happens to not all be in Telstra's pockets now.
  • Missing the Point

    Your missing the point. OUR INTERNET REALLY SUCKS. Whenever I go over to Europe or the US, I feel like the retarded cousin. Blame mongering achieves nothing. What Steve Ballmer was trying to say is exactly this, He doesn't give a damn how it happens but it needs to happen. Otherwise Australia is just going to fall further behind.
  • Dont shoot the mesenger

    I can only respond to what is written. Mr Lawrence stated that supporting Telstra will create jobs. It is clearly false, by many thousands and counting.
  • Strong alliance!!!

    Telstra and Microsoft offer a unique opprtunity for Australia to advance into the future.

    Please Please Please MR Conroy do not stuff this and award the NBN to the joke that is "Tierra"
  • Inform yourself

    What is 'Tierra'? You may wish to become informed before any further posting.