Sunday, March 18, 2007

Steve Ballmer on Google

It takes a certain sort of nerve to attack a company for only being good at one thing when you're worse at that one thing yourself. Also, in news for Steve Ballmer, Google is good at two things, search and advertising:

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer yesterday bad-mouthed Google for being successful at only one business (even though it's a business Microsoft has been trying unsuccessfully to break into). But the target doesn't matter. It could have been Linux. Or Apple. I'm just worn out by the repetition. Ballmer's trash-talking is a tired routine. He needs to get a new act.

For a couple of years now Microsoft has been trying to figure out how Google does it -- how the world's premiere search company provides Web-based services and makes its money by selling advertising. Google has done extremely well at both, and its success has made it the darling of Wall Street.

By contrast, as hard as Microsoft has tried with MSN and its confusing Live announcements, it hasn't done very well at either: Its search services are mediocre, and its Live OneCare antivirus software has famously failed a couple of tests recently.

As far as I can see, Microsoft will never have any success in Web-based, advertising-supported services for two reasons. First, it doesn't trust the model -- Microsoft is unwilling to give away for free any service that might be really useful. And second, it doesn't trust its customers.

It's also true that Microsoft is only good at one thing: controlling the OS market.

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