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Daring Fireball: Microsoft Still Relying on Nasty FUD Rather Than Actual Competition

Published May 5th, 2007
Daring Fireball: The iPhone's Funny Price iPhone promo imageNow that they've lost round one in the mp3 player wars, Microsoft is using the exact same FUD strategy that failed it in fighting Apple in the upcoming "smart phone" wars. It's doing this while simultaneously continuing to fight with nothing but pure FUD in the "home theater" wars. Meanwhile, Apple has released the Apple TV unit, an actual product in the home theater wars that's providing customers with some real value over existing solutions, and the iPhone is a brand new category unlike anything else on the market. This is one thing Microsoft still doesn't understand--or wants to make sure you're confused about--the iPhone is only a phone in name. To consumers like me, who actually don't give a hoot about its telephone creds, the iPhone is first and foremost, a huge-screen iPod. Close behind, it's a wifi internet device for browsing the web, checking email, weather, etc. while traveling. And finally, it's the first step in the development of an actual new Newton, a tiny computer that will ultimately replace things like the Treo. Unlike those other smart phones, you don't even have to get phone service to use the iPhone... nor do you need to subscribe to a data service, if you already treat the web as your data source. Ballmer would like you to think it's not a competitor for the touchpad PCs they've been trying to sell, but it ultimately is. And as John Gruber points out in this recent editorial on Microsoft's latest nastiness, Microsoft itself has nowhere near the market share in the smart phone market that it does on desktops. He quotes Wikipedia's stats that measure Windows Mobile at having only a 6-percent share of the smart phone market, behind 17 percent for Linux and 72 percent for Symbian. Yet Ballmer has the necessary evil to try to say Apple would be wasting its time going after that market, because they could never get more than 2-3 percent of it. As long as Microsoft lets a guy like Ballmer speak for the company, I will continue to have absolutely nothing to do with it, and I hope others feel the same way. This is no way to conduct business in a modern, adult society. It's the playground tactic of a middle-schooler, which apparently is the state of development at which Ballmer stopped.
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