News Byte: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Talks Shortcomings and Opportunities

News Byte: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Talks Shortcomings and Opportunities
News Byte: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Talks Shortcomings and Opportunities

For marketers, Microsoft might seem like an also-ran. While it has presence in areas like mobility and search, its market share pales compared to competitors like Google and Apple (for the former) and Google (for the latter).

In Microsoft's first call with financial analysts in two years, CEO Steve Ballmer, who last made a splash when the company announced his impending retirement, acknowledged that Microsoft's share in mobile devices is virtually nil. “I don't know whether to say that with enthusiasm or kind of uncomfortable tension, but I am an optimistic guy,” he said. “Anything we have low market share sounds like upside opportunity to me.”

Microsoft was demonstrably optimistic around the anticipated acquisition of Nokia's devices business, which Microsoft announced in September—though the focus seemed to be on markets beyond U.S. borders.

“The momentum in the marketplace, particularly outside the U.S., is accelerating for us,” said Microsoft's COO Kevin Turner. “And we are going to continue to double down and leverage that. And one of the things that we are very excited about is the capability that Nokia brings to the company.”

Ballmer also seemed excited about the prospects around Microsoft's search engine Bing, saying that it had been performing well and that year-over-year search revenue was up “I don't know, 30% to 40%.” Bing is certainly gaining market share. A comScore report released in August revealed that in July 2013, 17.9% of online searches occurred on Bing, up from 15.7% at the same time last year. This is more growth than Google saw during the same period.

Ballmer added that Microsoft used to invest heavily in customer acquisition for Bing and that Microsoft devices (like Windows Phone and Xbox), which constitute 13% of the company's 2013 revenues, are the number one customer acquisition vehicle for Bing. It should be noted that these devices ship with Bing factory installed.

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