updated 12:20 pm EDT, Thu March 19, 2009
MS on Win Mobile and Yahoo
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer in an interview Thursday revealed the company's current approach to competing with rivals, particularly Apple. The executive noted he believes that Apple may have difficulties as smartphones gain market share as the iPhone is relatively expensive to make. Where Ballmer estimated that an iPhone costs about $500 before factoring in carrier subsidies, he saw the "sweet spot" as being phones that have a pure cost between $150 and $200, which are more likely to include Windows Mobile.
Touchscreens are considered important by Ballmer, though he downplayed the iPhone's emphasis on its premium capacitive screen as a possible liability versus the cheaper, resistive screens that are required on Windows Mobile handsets with touch input.
"We want to provide vendors with ability to make Windows phones up and down the price scale," he said. "The way they do [touch] on the iPhone is not an inexpensive component. We’ll do it in a way that you can afford to do it on most phones."
The early Microsoft employee also clarified the role of his firm's upcoming retail stores and said they will be more of a "showcase" for Microsoft's products rather than a direct source for a large portion of its product sales, which will still go to third-party retailers. "Apple actually sells about half of all Apple machines through its stores or online," he said. "We’re not going to do that for PCs."
Ballmer also reiterated that his company is still open to doing a search deal with Yahoo and said that he's had only one opportunity to talk to new Yahoo chief Carol Bartz since she took her position in January. If any deal is to take place, a conversation will happen "when she's ready" rather than under pressure from either company.