In a letter to shareholders posted today on the Microsoft Investor website, Steve Ballmer, current CEO of Microsoft, said something surprising.
His comments in the annual letter suggest that Microsoft may take a page out of the Apple playbook and start building its own phones based on the upcoming Surface tablet PCs, similarly to the other hardware made by the Redmond-based tech giant, the XBox 360.
Ballmer does of course cover all the bases, making sure that current hardware partners don’t get too angry. “We will continue to work with a vast ecosystem of partners to deliver a broad spectrum of Windows PCs, tablets and phones,” he wrote. “We do this because our customers want great choices and we believe there is no way one size suits over 1.3 billion Windows users around the world.” Sounds like a pretty obvious jab at the iPhone, but maybe I’m just biased.
“There will be times when we build specific devices for specific purposes, as we have chosen to do with Xbox and the recently announced Microsoft Surface,” continued Ballmer in his letter. He also notes that the future of Windows devices will be in how they are connected, perhaps with cloud-based technologies.
“In all our work with partners and on our own devices, we will focus relentlessly on delivering delightful, seamless experiences across hardware, software and services,” he wrote. “…So right out of the box, a customer will get a stunning device that is connected to unique communications, productivity and entertainment services from Microsoft as well as access to great services and applications from our partners and developers around the world.”
This new approach really matches that of Apple’s, obviously. Microsoft isn’t run by ignorant or stupid people; they have some of the best brains in the industry working with and for them. Apple is extremely successful with their current approach, making their own hardware and connecting it to their own software.
It looks like the CEO of Microsoft sees this as well, and realizes that his company must change with the times, as well.