Sydney, Australia--Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer on Thursday dismissed Google's Android operating system, saying he believed it was financially unsound.
Speaking at Telstra's annual investment day, Ballmer said that Android was Google's first phone operating system and that designing one wasn't easy. "They can hire smart guys, hire a lot of people, blah dee blah dee blah, but you know they start out way behind in a certain sense," he said.
He questioned Google's ability to make money with Android. "I don't really understand their strategy. Maybe somebody else does. If I went to my shareholder meeting, my analyst meeting and said, hey, we've just launched a new product that has no revenue model!"
"Yeah. Cheer for me. I'm not sure that my investors would take that very well. But that's kind of what Google's telling their investors about Android," he said.
He said that although the idea was that Google gave away the operating system and in return got to put its search on devices for free, he believed telecommunications operators were smart and would still ask to be paid to carry search.
The lack of certainty around money would mean that the improvement of the operating system would be neglected, according to Ballmer, who said that in the whole scheme of things, there was other competition he was more worried about.
"Google doesn't exactly bubble to the top of the list of the top competitors we've got going in mobile. They might some day. But right now..." he said.
Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo also jumped in with his opinion. "My view is it's interesting, not compelling," he said.
The Telstra leader also wondered if Google had the expertise to follow through, saying that there are always issues in a first-generation device which had to ironed out. "Yes, first generation you make the sale. The question is when you get into the second, third and fourth generation," he said.