Why is Microsoft’s Ballmer So Confident?

In Tel Aviv, at Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) first Windows 8 launch held outside the United States, the company’s CEO Steve Ballmer said, “With the work we have done with Nokia, HTC, Samsung and others…there is now an opportunity to create really a strong third participant in the smartphone market.”

Even though Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS currently dominate the smartphone market, and Windows 8 was launched only 10 days ago, Ballmer expects “the volumes on Windows Phone to really ramp quickly.”

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But the competitive market for smartphone devices makes such an inroad a difficult task.

The first Windows 8 smartphone was launched last week by Nokia (NYSE:NOK). For the struggling Finnish mobile phone manufacturer, which reported an underlying loss for the third straight quarter last month, the phone represents an opportunity for recovery.

However, Nokia currently has a very small share of the smartphone market. In the third quarter, the Symbian operating system used by Nokia, held a 2.3 percent share in the market, down from 14.6 percent a year ago. In comparison Windows had a 2 percent share, up from 1.2 percent a year earlier, Apple’s iOS had a 14.9 percent share, and Android held a 75 percent share. Furthermore, shipments of Android-based smartphones made by Samsung (SSNLF.PK), HTC, and other vendors nearly doubled in the third quarter.

Ballmer does not seem daunted by these statistics.

In the interview in Tel Aviv, he said that there will be more marketing and advertising around Windows 8, its Surface tablet, and Windows Phone than for any previous Microsoft products.

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