Steve Ballmer: Windows Smartphone Will Explode Sooner than Expected

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By Erik Pineda | November 6, 2012 12:57 PM EST

Lately he is all over the world and Microsoft big boss Steve Ballmer is a firm believer of the products he sell, which for now hovers only on one 'powerful' computing system - the freshly rolled out Windows 8.

The new platform will run on conventional PCs, tablet computers and smartphones, with the latter device having its own mobile version of the OS, the Windows Phone 8, that Microsoft has optimised for the communication tool that now permeates global consumers' everyday lives.

At the moment, the smartphone world stands on the ecosystem that by and large is defined by Apple's iOS and Google's Android but Mr Ballmer is convinced a window is opening up for WP8-powered smartphones.

Hitting Israel this week, which is but part of Microsoft's $US1.5 billion marketing blitz to let the world know that Windows 8 has arrived and like Apple products they would want it too, the company CEO presses his case, bordering slightly on the hard-sell.

"There is now an opportunity to create really a strong third participant in the smartphone market," Mr Ballmer told Reuters on Monday, hastening to add that Microsoft will not pass up on this chance.

Rival Apple had branded the new Microsoft creation as confusing, directly coming from Mr Ballmer's counterpart, Tim Cook, though the latter has admitted that he has yet to test any products directly related to Windows 8.

The Microsoft chief brushed aside the comments as he reported last week of stunning reception for the devices running the new OS, reiterating in Tel Aviv that "the initial reaction to these products has been really, really phenomenal."

"The truth of the matter is more people over time will get Windows 8 by buying a new computer than by upgrading old computers," he went on to say.

Mr Ballmer boldly predicted that consumers will snap up new smartphones in the manner they grab PCs every year, which according to Microsoft leads to annual sales of at least 400 million traditional computing units.

The same movement is seen in smartphone sales, though in much bigger way, with tech research firm IDC reporting that some 136 million units were shifted out in Q3 2012 and singling out (again) Android and Apple handsets for jointly capturing about 90 per cent of the market.

That leaves 10 per cent for Mr Ballmer to dream about and he is not complaining, conceding even that "we are still relatively small."

The boldness, however, he could not temper, declaring out of the blue: "I expect the volumes on Windows Phone to really ramp quickly."

How exactly this projection will come about, Mr Ballmer said, is anchored on Microsoft's partnership with Samsung, HTC and Nokia - the latter betting every fibre of its survival to the giant push for Windows 8.

But one key PC player appears not too enthusiastic as the Microsoft chief executive - Hewlett-Packard. Burned by the global decline of PC sales, HP is embracing the new system that Microsoft has unleashed but it treads cautiously.

The company's fresh thrust in hardware selling is best described as subdued, rolling out a few models of PCs and tablets and deciding to wait out for more encouraging signals prior to plunging anew in the smartphone business.

Explaining HP's stance, Dan Tindall, vice president for global channel development, told UK-based The Channel that while WP8 seems "a huge market ... and we recognise its size ... (its short-term opportunity) is smaller than explosive in the first few quarters."

But Mr Tindall allowed at the same time that "smartphone is part of a broad way that we interact with computing so in that sense its important HP be part of that."

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