Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is the anti-Steve-Jobs: a sweaty, tongue-lashing ogre of a corporate figurehead who exudes a sort of Ben-Grimm-like lovability through his orange, scaled outer shell. He often says foolish things, and that’s okay, because we love him anyway.
This morning, Ballmer’s talking to Bloomberg Businessweek about the just-released Office 2013 (not to be confused with Office 365, Microsoft’s online productivity suite). In the interview, he talks a little bit about Office for iPad, and then bizarrely decides to slag off Dropbox for a spell.
First, the Dropbox quote. The cloud syncing app for iOS, Mac, PC, Android platforms may be a user favorite (I personally don’t understand why Apple or Microsoft just doesn’t buy Dropbox to get their own cloud syncing systems in order), but Ballmer thinks it’s Mickey Mouse, claiming that Dropbox’s 100 million user install base is “a pretty small number to me, actually. We’ve got a lot more Office users. And actually if you even want to go to the cloud, we have a lot of Hotmail and SkyDrive users.”
Still, Ballmer clarified, “I’m not beating on Dropbox. They’re a fine little startup and that’s great.” Then he patted Dropbox on the head and gave it a lollipop.
As for Office for iPad, Ballmer wouldn’t be roped into talking about it directly, but he did hint that it might be coming:
I have nothing to say on that topic. We’re very glad with the product, very happy with the product that we’re putting in market. It makes sense on the devices like the Mac and the PC. We have a product that we think makes a lot of sense. We do have a way for people always to get to Office through the browser, which is very important. And we’ll see what we see in the future.
We’ve seen multiple credible leaks of Office for iPad floating around in the past year, but so far, Microsoft hasn’t actually released it. I can see their dilemma: they want to sell Office, but they know that native Office support is probably one of the only advantages something like the Microsoft Surface or a similar Windows 8 tablet has over an iPad. Sell Office on the App Store, and that advantage disappears. Then again, Windows 8 and the Surface aren’t making traction against the iPad anyway, so Microsoft may as well make money off of the software people do want, don’t you think?