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February 15, 2006

Back at ya, Ballmer

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 10:47 AM

BARCELONA, Spain -- Microsoft pulled out all the stops Tuesday when Steve Ballmer took the stage and said in an hourlong keynote during 3GSM that the company wanted to play a large role in the wireless industry.

But the plea fell on deaf ears at its largest mobile operating system competitor, London-based Symbian, which currently dominates the high-end cell phone market.

David Wood, Symbian's executive vice president working on research for acclerating time to market, said Microsoft's announcements were typical smoke and mirrors.

He said Symbian sold more than 34 million phones loaded with its operating system last year, and is expecting a 136 percent growth rate this year. In comparison, Microsoft said it shipped more than 6 million WIndows Mobile-based connected devices last year and expects the market to grow signficantly
.
Wood said that although Microsoft sells way fewer devices ,it gets more attention because it has a better marketing machine than Symbian.

"Every year at 3GSM, people come over and say you've got to see what Microsoft is announcing. They are so good at PR," he said. "We spend our money on research and not on PR. The best marketing tools are the phones."

Still, he said he doesn't seen Microsoft as all bad. There are some benefits.

"Microsoft and Symbian are on the same side," he said. "It's great that they are pushing for operators to roll out advanced services."

Sidenote: For those sitting in the front row during Ballmer's keynote, it was easy to see he had a handful on his mind. The Microsoft CEO had written a series of notes on the back of his hand in ink. From 15 feet away, there was no telling what it said, but it makes us wonder, did he run out of room on his Pocket PC?

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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