Ballmer: 'I Don't Think Everybody Wants a Tablet'

5:45 PM -- Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer rarely has a good thing to say about competitor products and doesn't appear to have been especially convinced about the utility of the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad before Redmond unveiled its own Surface touch screens this week. (See Poll: Microsoft's Surface-Level Tablet Specs.)

"I think people are going to be using PCs in greater and greater numbers for many years to come," Ballmer told an AllThingsD conference in 2010 after being asked about the iPad, while stressing that PCs will continue to "morph" in form factor.

"I think there is a fundamental difference between small enough to be in a pocket and not really small to fit in your pocket," Ballmer added.

"I don't think everybody wants a slate," Ballmer later told the Microsoft annual financial analyst meeting on July 29, 2010, talking about tablets, while acknowledging that "we have got to make things happen with Windows 7."

Still, Ballmer isn't the only Microsoft luminary to minimize the impact of the iPad in the tech world. Bill Gates had this to say to The Boston Globe in 2010 about the iPad:

You can understand why Redmond might be touchy about the iPad: Microsoft has been trying to get the tablet PC concept off the ground since the beginning of the last decade. (See CES: Gates on 'Digital Decade'.)

In fact, Microsoft had already started development of -- and then canned -- what Gizmodo and others had reported as a possible "iPad Killer" in 2010, the dual-screen "Courier" tablet:

So, despite all their botched attempts to popularize tablet PCs and "slates," Microsoft should really be thanking Apple for actually creating a real market that it might actually be able to land its Surface on.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

gtchavan 12/5/2012 | 5:29:20 PM
re: Ballmer: 'I Don't Think Everybody Wants a Tablet'

It will eventually die.

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:29:17 PM
re: Ballmer: 'I Don't Think Everybody Wants a Tablet'

Not everyone wants a tablet.  If everyone did want a tablet, then we would see no more PC’s being sold.  Even Apple sees that there is life in laptops and desktops.  Apple just updated its line of laptops and even introduced the MacBook Pro with a retina display.  In the next month or so, the desktops will see an update.  If the tablet was to rule the world, then wouldn’t the maker of the most popular tablet be abandoning PC’s?  Soon they will release their next revision of their OS.  Why continue to put R&D in something that is dead?  They are not, as it is not dead at all.  There is a need for tablets just like there is a  need for traditional computers as well.


Would an author write a novel on a tablet?  Would a programmer program on a tablet?

Is Microsoft terribly late?  Yep.  When has Microsoft ever actually listened to the consumer though?  They have killed projects that made sense and have kept around ones that no one wants; like Metro.  The consumer has consistently said no to it and Microsoft is still marching on.

Flook 12/5/2012 | 5:29:17 PM
re: Ballmer: 'I Don't Think Everybody Wants a Tablet'

Agree. It's not right to look at this as a PC v. tablet battle--each has its place and capabilities. If you want a big screen (20+ inches) you're not going to get that on a tablet, at least not one you'd want to carry around. I see the two devices as complementary.

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