Ballmer Disses Dropbox and Dodges Office for iPad Question


In an interview with Business Week about the launch of Office 2013, Steve Ballmer (in his typical style) disses Dropbox as a “fine little startup” and just skips questions about Office for the iPad.

You’ve got to give Ballmer props for staying on message and true to his character. In his interview with Business Week, interviewer Ashlee Vance pointed out that Microsoft was rather late in the cloud storage game and they have to compete with folks like Dropbox. To which Ballmer responded:

Well, you’ve got to remember, 100 million sounds like a pretty small number to me, actually. We’ve got a lot more Office users. And actually if you even want to go to the cloud, we have a lot of Hotmail and SkyDrive users. I’m not beating on Dropbox. They’re a fine little startup and that’s great.

Via Businessweek

Yeah, okay, Skydrive and Hotmail have lots of users, but I don’t really see many apps dying to include saving to Skydrive as an option. Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, even Evernote, sure. Skydrive? Not so much.

Granted, I am in a very iOS and OS X centric world where hooking into things that Microsoft does isn’t high on my priority list. Still, it’s like Ballmer saying similar things about the iPhone and iPad, he’s just so blindly focused on Microsoft (and that Microsoft can do no wrong) he just says these things…

Then there is Office for the iPad. I’ll include the entire question and answer for this one…cause it’s…well just read it:

How’s that Office for the iPad coming along?

I have nothing to say on that topic. We’re very glad with the product, very happy with the product that we’re putting in market. It makes sense on the devices like the Mac and the PC. We have a product that we think makes a lot of sense. We do have a way for people always to get to Office through the browser, which is very important. And we’ll see what we see in the future.

Uh huh.

As John Brownlee of Cult of Mac points out:

I can see their dilemma: they want to sell Office, but they know that native Office support is probably one of the only advantages something like the Microsoft Surface or a similar Windows 8 tablet has over an iPad. Sell Office on the App Store, and that advantage disappears. Then again, Windows 8 and the Surface aren’t making traction against the iPad anyway, so Microsoft may as well make money off of the software people do want, don’t you think?

The Surface RT sales have been epically bad, we don’t know how the Surface Pro will do yet, but it’s kinda hard to sell a device with 64GB of storage when you can only tap into about 20GB of that (without house cleaning first) when you could pick up an iPad instead. If Microsoft wants Office 365 to regain the status that Office had that you get a computer, you get Office, then they have to face facts—they need Office for the iPad.

And they might think about buying Dropbox before Apple wises up and beats them too it.

Photo from Flickr via Dell.

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  • Alan

    Google faced a similar dilemma, but it has quickly realized that it needs to have its apps in the App Store, as by not doing so it is alienating users who use their service. In fact, they now have some of the best apps in the App Store (in case of the Google Maps and Gmail, it is even better than the default apps) and in the meantime, it continues to improve Android.

    So in case of Office, people who use the iPad have already moved on to other alternative. I haven’t heard any of my friends telling me that they won’t be buying the iPad because it doesn’t have Office.

    And when some of these apps start launch apps for Windows, it will really start hurting them.

    There is always a cost of alienating your users in the long term. I guess its great for Microsoft’s competitors. Things will really get interesting if Google releases native apps for Docs.

  • Tom Mikele

    How does this guy keep his job? His list of failures is longer than his successes and critical talent keeps leaving because of Ballmer.

    Rapidly losing respect for Gates. He needs to grow a pair and get rid of Ballmer.