Ballmer: We're No. 5 in the smartphone market but it's an opportunity

Windows Phone 7 is the reboot

Ballmer: We're No. 5 in the smartphone market but it's an opportunity

When you're attempting to unseat the big boys, even if you're a huge behemoth like Microsoft, a touch of humility never goes astray.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's admission that Windows Mobile - now rebranded Windows Phone 7 - lost the plot, may settle a few nerves.

Indeed, Ballmer appears more than aware of just what Microsoft has been doing wrong, and why its competitors have been getting things so right.

"We were ahead of this game," Ballmer said at the D8 conference, adding that the company had missed a whole cycle of the industry and is now trailing at the back of the grid.

"We haven't fallen off the face of the planet, but we were ahead of this game and now we find ourselves number five in the market, with still tens of millions of units a year. But not anywhere near where we ought to be or should be."

All change

As such, Ballmer said he has been "quite public" regarding recent leadership changes instigated within Window's mobile division.

"We had to do a little cleanup, change things around," he said, adding that the company's presence in the smartphone market needs to be as big thinking as it is in the PC market.

"The market leaders [in smartphones] have probably shifted over twice in the last five or six years. The fact that the market is pretty dynamic I have to view as our opportunity," he said.

"We all have our challenges. Every one of the guys in the market today I think has competitive vulnerability, and certainly we look forward to competing with them."

Keeping up with the Joneses

Though Ballmer offered no comment on iPhone - the market many believes Windows Phone 7 is being pitched at - he did have words, both good and bad, to say about Microsoft's mobile rivals.

"They're obviously a good competitor," he said of RIM. "I think the thing people miss is how good a job they've done on the consumer side of the business.

"There's still this sort of old myth that they're an enterprise sort of company, which is just not the case any more. They've done very well with the consumer," he added, noting that while he believes BlackBerry is less robust than some other platforms, it's the number 1 seller in the US for a reason.

Nokia, however, is more of a mystery to Ballmer.

"They're always a little harder to gage - I know the statistics, I see the phones, but I live in this country, and when you live in the US you just get this totally warped view, because... their US market share is close to zero," he told those at the conference.

"It really tells you that they're knocking it out of the park in Europe and emerging countries.

"I think on software side they're also trying to get their act together to some degree. We do have a collaboration to some degree with them in smartphones with our Office software. But you know, I think they're interesting."

[source: Apple Insider]

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.