Could Ballmer Have Made Apple More Profitable?
What would happen if Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer ran Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)? That’s the hypothetical situation imagined by former Microsoft marketing manager and tech industry commentator Ben Thompson on his blog Stratechery.
Assuming that Ballmer could persuade Apple to adopt his strategies, Thompson believes that the Microsoft CEO would actually make Apple more profitable. Thompson notes that Ballmer comes from a corporate culture that has a heavy emphasis on increasing value for the shareholder at the exclusion of almost everything else. The commentator points to a recent interview that Ballmer had with ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley in which he was asked what he was most proud of accomplishing at Microsoft.
“If I had to sort of couple it, I’m very proud that we were able to make this incredible impact on the planet and at the same time do a good job for our shareholders,” stated the soon-to-be-retiring CEO.
According to Thompson, this comment epitomizes Ballmer’s approach to the computer business. Ballmer’s comment also stands in stark contrast to comments made by Apple’s head of human interface design, Jony Ive, in an interview with The Telegraph last year.
“Our goal isn’t to make money. Our goal absolutely at Apple is not to make money. This may sound a little flippant, but it’s the truth. Our goal and what gets us excited is to try to make great products. We trust that if we are successful people will like them, and if we are operationally competent we will make revenue, but we are very clear about our goal,” said Ive.
On the other hand, while Thompson believes Ballmer would make Apple more profitable in the short term, he also believes that the Microsoft CEO would destroy the immeasurable qualities that makes Apple so popular with consumers. “Things like design can’t be measured, nor can user experience. How do you price delight, or discount annoyance? How much is an Apple genius worth?” asks Thompson.
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