Oct 31, 2012 — by: Mark Reschke


Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, recently interviewed by Shira Ovide of the Wall Street Journal, stated "In every category Apple competes, it's the low-volume player, except in tablets." Ballmer continued, "In the PC market, obviously the advantage of diversity has mattered since 90-something percent of the PCs that get sold are Windows PCs. We'll see what winds up mattering in tablets."

Ballmer is sounding a lot like Howard Hughes, hanging onto the edge of sanity, but he also sounds like a guy about to lose his job. The things Steve Ballmer have been saying of late are downright desperate. The more he talks, the deeper he digs down into his "crazy" hole.

Consider Apple's market leading position and decade-long dominance of the MP3 player market with the iPod lineup. Not only does Apple maintain more than 70% of the MP3 market, Apple offers four different models of iPads ranging from $49 to $399, delivering choice and pricing for any size of consumer wallet. But there are many other factual errors beyond Apple's iPod dominance that Ballmer doesn't get.

Apple is the world dominate volume distributor of music, digital or otherwise. And while xBOX 360 is only selling around 210k units per month, Apple is nearly doubling those sales figures with the non-hyped, non-advertised Apple TV. Presumably, Apple TV is also Apple's hottest selling living room entertainment device in the world, and yet Apple still calls it a hobby. 

Apple's MacBook Pro 13" laptop is the highest volume selling laptop in the US, but this is only one model, thus Ballmer thinks nothing of it. Apparently, Ballmer does not care that Apple's Mac market-share has eclipsed Windows system sales for the past 25 straight quarters, because PCs are the bulk sales of computers... All of these things escape Ballmer's vision, or he cares not, because for him the world is all about massive volume sales -- not margin, not profit, not customer experience, just volume sales.

And what of those volume sales? For every volume sale Apple's competition is putting on the table, Apple continues to eat up all the profits. Apple owns roughly 70% of the entire realm of cell phone profits, while owning only a 17% share. According to research firm Strategy Analytics Apple is poised to sell 50 million iPhones in the December 2012 quarter -- you know, another low-volume product by Apple, Inc.

Steve Ballmer did know of, and admit too, Apple dominating the tablet world with iPad. But of course, Ballmer has firmly placed all bets on Microsoft's Surface tablet being a run-a-way hit, when it's more likely to just run away from anything remotely resembling volume sales. If that's the case, then according to Ballmer's thinking, it'll be just another low-volume product, something Microsoft wouldn't be interested in continuing to produce, right Steve?

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