This one really is enough to make a cat laugh. If anyone ever needed evidence that large swathes of corporate America are so divorced from reality as to to be utterly devoid of any concept of irony, look no further than here says Martyn Warwick.
Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft Corporation, believes that regulators aren't doing enough to keep Google in check!
Last week he told an audience at a search engine conference in the US that Google "has done things to gain unfair advantage in the search advertising market" although he did stop short of accusing the Cookie Monster of misconduct. After all, that might have resulted in a lawsuit.
Warming to his theme at the Search Marketing Expo, Mr. Ballmer added, "We are expressing some of the issues and frustrations we see. Sometimes unsolicited, sometimes because we have been asked."
However, the CEO did not say how many times regulators have actually approached senior staff at Microsoft and solicited their opinions on matters pertaining to unfair competition, market domination, questionable trading practices and other such matters. In the past though, Mr. Ballmer's competitors have, on more than one occasion, been asked to provide or have volunteered their opinions on several of Microsoft's less-than-transparent business practices.
Microsoft spent a lot of time, energy and other resources on lobbying to persuade US regulators that Google would have been in breach of anti-monoply legislation in respect of its search advertising joint venture with Yahoo! that was abandoned in 2008 as well as the still ongoing "digital books" saga. However, Microsoft is now about to embark on a ten-year long strategic partnership with the aforementioned Yahoo! so priorities have changed a bit and earlier howls of protest have now died away.
That's because, when the partnership goes live later this year, Microsoft will begin to administer search requests made on Yahoo's web site and will get part of the the advertising revenues raised via its new best friend. Steve Ballmer believes that as Microsoft processes more and more search requests it will become the recipient and custodian of ever-increasing amounts of data that, a la Google, it will analyse and manipulate to provide "improved search results " (again al la Google). Well they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
In this way Microsoft expects, gradually, to woo punters away from Google However, Mr.
Ballmer, in a rare example of looking reality straight in the face for once, expects this process to take quite some time and won't give even a tentative date for when he thinks Microsoft will overtake Google as the world's first port of call in Internet search. "I don't know how old I will be when that will happen," he said. Google currently has a 65 per cent share of the US Internet search market and the CEO is 53. My suggestion would be that he changes his name to Methuselah Ballmer and possesses his soul in patience for a couple of centuries.
For its own part, Microsoft has been in conflict with regulators in various parts of the world for years on end and still owes millions of dollars in unpaid penalties levied by the European authorities. Nonetheless, the company seems determined to point and shout at others despite some of the highly-questionable business practices it employed in the past.
Yahoo! though is being more circumspect. The company's CEO, Carol Bartz said, "I am actually not interested in government intervention in anything. I think for the most part markets work. I don't wish antitrust on anyone." Try telling Steve B that.
Meanwhile and elsewhere, it has emerged that some 70 per cent of Microsoft's huge workforce is working of "cloud-related" projects - and that figure will climb to 90 per cent by this time next year.
Granting an audience to another set of worshippers, this time at the University of Washington, Mr. Ballmer confirmed that he is "betting our company" that the future is in The Cloud and Microsoft will be up there lurking in the cumulo-nimbus with it. "The cloud fuels Microsoft, and Microsoft fuels the crowd. We're all in", he said.
He added, "The cloud wants smart devices," and pointed out that the Windows Phone 7 Series mobile operating system was built with the cloud "very much in mind".
Simultaneously, another Microsoft Big Cheese, Scott Charney, the VP for (get this) "Trustworthy Computing", says the Internet ought to be taxed "to help defray the costs associated with computer security breaches" and increasing numbers of debilitating ddos attacks. Now, just ask yourself, how many software patches does Microsoft issue per annum in efforts to solve cybersecurity problems of its own making?
You couldn't make this stuff up.
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