Ballmer: Microsoft will dunk on Google...eventually

Ballmer: Microsoft will dunk on Google...eventually

Summary: Steve Ballmer was first at bat as the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco resumed for the second day.


Steve Ballmer was first at bat as the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco resumed for the second day. His best line, and classic Ballmer, was about how Microsoft's search efforts are going versus Google. "Microsoft [search] is just 3 years old and playing basketball with 12 year olds. It may take until he is 8, 9 or 10 and you are going to dunk, and we will dunk on them. "In other words, the relentless Microsoft will dunk on Google search and ads over time, according to Ballmer speak.

Microsoft will continue to invest in buying technology, products and market share. "We'll buy 20 companies a year consistently for the next five years for anywhere between $50 million and $1 billion bucks," Ballmer said.


Regarding acquiring Yahoo, which would be more than a paltry $1 billion, to gain more traction with advertising and Web share, he said, "We believe in our independent path." He didn't exactly rule out a union but it sounded like the two companies are pursuing their separate paths for now.

Conference co-host John Battelle asked Ballmer about making a substantial investment in Facebook. "We have a great ad partnership. We'll see where it takes us," Ballmer said. As expected both Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Ballmer are dodging the question.

On calling Google a "one-trick pony" in the past, Ballmer explained, "When I use the 'one trick pony' I meant in a very specific way. Companies start in one area and fill around core." He mentioned Cisco filling around a networking core, IBM around an enterprise...and Google around search and ads. "We have two things--desktop and enterprise. We are trying to have three or four, with devices and entertainment. We are fairly unique ourselves. Generally it confines you if you are wed to one basic technology approach and business model."

What does Ballmer make of Facebook's 100,000 developers? "They have done a really nice job on the developer platform. Any exciting application will have a developer story but that doesn't necessarily replace an operating system. They have their own unique extensibility model and developer community," Ballmer said.

On the topic of Microsoft's Silverlight, a competitor to Adobe's Flash and AIR, Ballmer said, "Web applications will continue to get richer and richer in the kinds of media and logic associated with them. Windows and Mac don't go away. Adobe has done good job on rich media stuff, but it's a long way to go."

On the topic of cloud-based Office suites, Ballmer said, "It's not that my job to do applications of a given computation model, but to deliver productivity," Ballmer said.

He was asked if he thought Google Docs & Spreadsheets was a good product. "If you want to do what most of what our customers want to do with Office, no I don't. But if you want a few people to collaborate on a fairly simple thing, there are some nice collaboration software on the Web." Microsoft recently introduced Office Live for Workspace, which Ballmer said provides richer collaboration for every Office user.

Ballmer addressed the question of how Microsoft would get to a point where 25 percent of its revenue would come from advertising. "We have to do four things very well. You have to do search well. The most valuable ad real estate comes out of search. You will never attract critical mass of advertisers without search," he said. In addition, Microsoft has to be good at community and communications, such as IM and the relationship with Facebook; build a strong advertising platform that addresses all media and devices; and sell ads on behalf of other people, moving into the syndication business as it has with Facebook and Digg.

Topics: Google, Microsoft, Social Enterprise

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  • And, he says this as they fall to a distant 4th behind an unknown Chinese

    company. Seems that if they can't bundle it with the OS, they can't compete for some reason??? Imagine that!! Of course they ARE trying to bundle, but it has not been effective, and they have run into antitrust issues.
    • Unknown?

      Unknown to you maybe, but to the Chinese it would seem to be reasonably well known. FYI, there's a whole wide world out there. Try to remember that, ok?
      • Ok, how many know the name of that Chinese company that just passed MS in

        search???? And, that is the point, an unknown company from CHINA of all places passes Microsoft, which has BILLIONS in the bank, and everything to lose, lets an unknown company from CHINA pass them in search?????

        Tell me it ain't so.
        • I think you must have slipped a gear

          In that you might not have noticed that:

          a) There are an awful lot of (Chinese) people in China, and elsewhere in the world, and...
          b) It works with the Chinese characters

          That being said, just because you haven't heard of it doesn't mean much to the Chinese and those who use it.
          • Exactly

            China has an enormous amount of people and when you couple that with the fact that their government is trying to censor the Internet, it's no surprise at all that a Chinese based search company has a significantly large user base.
      • Missing the point...

        Of course China's major search engine is going to be bigger... China is overpopulated (1/6 of the world population)... and it supports Chinese characters... also it supports what no one else wants to, government-demanded censorship. You really think a company in China would have gotten so big any other way. Let them have their placement, I'd rather have my freely-searchable web. It's not that we don't know a world exists, it's just that their world isn't as good, ideals and philosophies-wise.
  • RE: Ballmer: Microsoft will dunk on Google...eventually

    Dan, good summary. I actually thought Ballmer was pretty good, laid back, sense of humour and didn't reek of the typical Microsoft arrogance. He's passionate, that's for sure.
    • Heavy Medication Will Do That To You

      And we've all seen what he's like off his meds
      • Still gives me nightmares.

        My god! That video still continues to give me frickin nightmares. That's more than enough to repel anyone with a little sensibility.
    • Pretty good?

      When he makes metaphors that include the inference that any 10 year old can slam
      dunk, he's off the planet.
      Fred Fredrickson
  • There is an issue...

    My Vista computer connects to the www very slowly because of some setting screw-up I can't find that is related to the Base Filtering Engine. I need to turn the BFE off to use the web but this means no fire wall which pretty much means I'm not going to use Vista on the web.

    I do have an OSX and a Mandriva pair which work fine and which have Fire Fox set as the default browser and I've kept the default Google search as my home page. There is zero chance that I will use MS search when they can't make the OS work right.

    Microsoft really need to fix this.
  • We've heard this before

    Xbox. Zune. MSN. In 3 years. In 5 years.

    The paper tiger growls again.
    • Especially considering that they just droped to a distant 4th ad Google

      surged to 58%. They are even behind an unknown Chinese company.
  • Microsoft has to seal its rift with the Web platforms...

    Microsoft created a dangerous rift with the web when it went to war with Sun over Java and insisted .NET be proprietary and incompatible with how most of the world writes web software.

    This is going to make their acquisition strategy Ballmer describes much dicier. There just aren't 20 interesting companies built on .NET for them to buy every year:
  • Does anyone actually take the trash talk seriously?

    Promote your own stuff. If it's good, it will sell; if not, denigrating the competition won't help (there are other means, but they're illegal and should be).
    John L. Ries
  • 3 year old playing?

    I guess he is right. Ballmer sure likes to act like a 3 year old.

    Temper tantrums and all.
  • Too bad Microsoft doesn't think it's a team sport...

    Too bad Microsoft doesn't think it's a team sport. The reason the "Dream Team" of the 00s got its butt kicked in the olympics was because most of the star players weren't team players. They kept going for the slam dunks (which aren't legal in Olympic Basketball) and hogging the ball.

    Meanwhile Google is doing a Dream Team 1992. Bird, Jordan, Johnson, Mullin, ... they're all incredible players in their own right, but they all emphasize on [i]team play.[/i]

    Microsoft wants to be the be-all-end-all solution for absolutely everything. So I say let them have their stupid slam dunks. Meanwhile Google, Apple, and others will start running circles around them leaving Microsfot to wonder how the heck they lost to Croatia .
  • Ballmer speaks, world better listen...

    My rep and I attended the Web 2.0 conference today and I attended Microsoft's hospitality suite afterwards. When SteveB walked in, all of the guests gave him a standing ovation. We then took turns bashing away at a pinata with the Google emblem on it. Then someone else hoisted a pinata with the Apple emblem on it. Pretty soon, everyone was bashing away at pinatas in a frenzy while my rep and I joined some other Microsoft employees in a "Steve-B, Steve-B!" chant.
    Mike Cox
    • What about open source?

      Did you have a pinata for that to? I would be disappointed if you didnt.
      • Missing a penguin pinata.

        I think Mike rushed this one to the presses.