Ballmer: ‘Tide has really turned’ against Apple in computer market

By Todd Bishop on March 19, 2009 at 7:22 PDT

Ballmer (Robert Sorbo / Microsoft Handout)
Speaking at a conference in New York this morning, Steve Ballmer was asked about the momentum Apple has experienced in the desktop and notebook computer market. The Microsoft CEO quickly jumped in to correct that impression, alluding to more recent data showing Apple’s growth taking a hit. And then he said something that could singlehandedly refan the flames of the Mac vs. PC rivalry.

“Apple gained about one point, but now I think the tide has really turned back the other direction,” Ballmer said, via webcast. “The economy is helpful. Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment — same piece of hardware — paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that’s a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be.”
Granted, manufacturers of Windows PCs have been stepping up their game, with Dell’s Adamo being the latest example. And yes, Macs and PCs now use the same Intel architecture, so in that sense the hardware is similar. But the suggestion that the only real difference between a Mac and a Windows PC is the logo, and the price, will no doubt stir some righteous indignation among the Mac faithful.

Of course, Windows PC sales have been slumping, as well, in the face of the difficult economy.
Ballmer was speaking at The McGraw-Hill Companies’ 2009 Media Summit. The interviewer, BusinessWeek editor-in-chief Stephen Adler, followed up by asking if Ballmer owned any Apple products himself. A secret iPod, maybe?

“No, none. I don’t, my sons don’t, my wife doesn’t,” Ballmer responded, as the crowd laughed.

“You’re talking to a guy, though, whose dad worked for Ford, and once Ford sold Land Rover and Jaguar, we’re selling the cars to get Fords, so you may have a weird outlier in me.”

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