During a recent conversation with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman at a Churchill Club event, Ballmer said: “The ecosystem of Android is a little wild,” highlighting the rise of malware on the operating system, and the multiple devices from various companies including Amazon, Samsung and Google that run it.
“Conversely, Apple’s system looks highly controlled and quite high prices,” said Ballmer. “How do you get quality at a premium price with not quite as controlled ecosystem.”
“The best of both worlds is available to us,” Ballmer insisted. Microsoft has recently launched its Surface tablet, which the CEO says is off to a ‘modest’ start. However, users have been complaining of Wi-Fi issues with the Surface, and that the Touch Cover that ships with the device has already begun peeling and splitting at the seam.
Microsoft has also launched Windows Phone 8, its new operating system for smartphones.
According to Ballmer, phone operators across the globe are looking for three vendors. “On the high end, they have Apple and Samsung and a sea at the low end,” he explained. “We have a customer set that wants to an alternative, and it’s a different opportunity strategically… the product has to be great.”
“Windows 8 is the most personal smartphone,” Ballmer continued. “When you whip out your phone, you want to see the things that matter to you.”
Ballmer thinks that it’s just the beginning for mobile devices, though. “If anyone thinks hardware innovation in pocket devices is ending, they’re nuts,” he said.
“There is unmet need from operators and, from a consumer perspective, a lot of room for innovation,” Ballmer acknowledged. ”The challenge is to get 10 per cent of the smartphone market, and then 15 per cent and then 20 per cent. We aren’t trying to get 60 per cent overnight.”