InformationWeek Blog | Sometimes Steve Ballmer Just Takes Your Breath Away

Very insightful article which helps blow past the Ballmer spin machine. Of course, Ballmer has such an “historic” perspective on Microsoft’s success.

In a USA Today interview Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is asked if he wishes consumers would get as passionate about Microsoft as they do when Apple comes out with something new. “It’s sort of a funny question,” he answers. “Would I trade 96% of the market for 4% of the market? I want to have products that appeal to everybody.” Steve, I’ve got one word for you: iPod.Ballmer wants to see the “my-OS-on-everybody’s-hardware” model play in the mobile phone space the way it has in the desktop-computer space. I am afraid, however, that’s not a forward-looking idea, it’s backward-looking wishful thinking.

Of course what was interesting to me was the low market share numbers for Windows Mobile devices, 5.6%. I must admit, for the past 6 months or so, I have been a Windows Mobile users–although not a happy one.

At the same time, while desktop PCs aren’t exactly going away, they’re being pushed to one side in the marketplace by other devices, and Ballmer can only dream about 96% of the market for cell phone operating systems. On the small percentage of phones that are smartphones — that is, they run applications — Microsoft’s Windows Mobile runs a distant third behind Symbian and Linux world-wide, according to figures on Wikipedia. (The breakdown is given as Symbian OS 72.8%, Linux 16.7%, Windows Mobile 5.6%, RIM 2.8%, and Palm OS 1.8%.)

If the enterprise market is at all on the iPhone’s radar screen, the key to breaking the Microsoft habit is to break the dependency on the Exchange/Outlook duopoly. There are a lot of enterprise buyers out there drooling over the iPhone and they have access to the corporate purchasing card, but they won’t buy the iPhone if they can’t get the corporate email. Since you can’t get Exchange out overnight, Apple, meet Blackberry/Blackberry meet Apple.

Furthermore, products like SharePoint should be seen for the evil they really are–and banished from all companies. It remains to be seen if products like Scalix, the Google office suite, or my personal favorite, Zimbra can gain market share in the collaborative software space. Only by breaking the Exchange/Outlook stranglehold on the enterprise, will Apple have a shot at piercing the enterprise market.

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