WP Central Steve Ballmer talks on Microsoft’s epic year whilst sporting two Lumi

The Seattle Times interviewed CEO Steve Ballmer recently and the man behind Microsoft is sounding quite confident about this year’s upcoming launches.

During the interview, Ballmer gave his impression of how momentous this year’s launch line-up will be for Microsoft and he even pulled out two Lumia 920 phones from his pockets. Many have speculated wildly on this interview in relation to Surface pricing, so we thought it was time we looked at what exactly was said…

Ballmer is excellent at staying on message. The interviewer asks him what Microsoft’s plans are in case Windows 8 doesn’t take off. After saying it will do great he goes on to say:

"I'm not paid to have doubts. (Laughs.) I don't have any. It's a fantastic product. ..."

Windows 8 is going to ship on every PC sold from this holiday season onwards. Ballmer cites the predicted sales of PCs to be somewhere in the region of 400 million units in 2013. Whilst he is bullish on the sales of Windows 8 and it driving the market he’s more cautious with his statement about the Surface Tablet:

"We'll have to see whether Surface is a success or not because we haven't shipped any yet. But it certainly has the elements of success.”

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Ballmer is clear about how Microsoft sees Surface being positioned in the market--a device suitable as a complete computing experience. He cites the Kindle Fire as an example of a device that isn’t capable of doing homework on, which chimes perfectly with Microsoft’s decision to include a keyboard and office capability on their tablets. The notion of a content-creation device versus a content-consumption one is a message MS will need to be very clear on when they come to launch. When we hear Ballmer compare Surface to a Kindle Fire, it’s clear where MS are likely to concentrate their message.

As for the Surface pricing question, Ballmer had this to say:

“If you look at the bulk of the PC market, it would run between, say, probably $300 to about $700 or $800. That's the sweet spot.”

What can we take from this? In short not much that we don’t already know or that hasn’t already been hinted at. The Surface pricing is likely to be strongly in line with an equivalent iPad with the same amount of memory. The Surface Pro tablets are likely to be priced at around the same as a good Ultrabook. Not much news there unfortunately.

But Ballmer does go on to talk about Microsoft becoming more of a "devices and services company", something that Microsoft started a long ago with the Xbox and the Zune devices (plus peripherals like mice and keyboards). The services that power these devices formed beginnings of what we see now with Windows Phone and the coming Windows 8 Stores, with the Surface tablets they are simply extending the reach of their eco system play.

Speaking on Microsoft’s advertising efforts it’s clear that Microsoft considers Xbox advertising as being a success. That’s an interesting take on their games system, after all, it’s a product that has very little in the way of Microsoft branding and some have said that alone has lead to more success as a result. Ballmer goes on to say that, their IE9 adverts currently doing the rounds are being received very well in terms of “perception, romance”.

Ballmer sounds optimistic about their coming launch line up and we’re glad he has two Lumia 920’s stuffed in his pockets. Like many, we’re hoping that this “epic year” is going to mean deeper penetration of Windows Phone in the marketplace. The benefits of the combined launch should have a halo effect on all the products. 

Source : Seattle Times