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Microsoft Takes Aim At IBM

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Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer unveiled Thursday a $500 million promoting Microsoft software for “people-ready business”.

Ballmer stated that the primary target of the campaign is IBM, as Microsoft wants to show that IBM is no longer a technology company, but a services company.

From Microsoft Watch:

Microsoft is planning to spend $500 million this year on the people-ready sales and marketing campaign, Ballmer said. Microsoft is using this week’s National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament week to kick off the campaign.

Microsoft has been using the slogan “helping people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential” as the company’s mission statement for some time now. The new “people-ready” emphasis is an outgrowth of that vision statement, but is more specific to the Windows and Office family of products.

Ballmer’s message was that Microsoft is far more focused on innovation and software that helps people be productive than IBM is. Microsoft has long maintained that, despite the headlines, IBM is its most significant competitor, and this campaign is designed to educate that IBM doesn’t really do software anymore, or at least not as well as Microsoft does.

The campaign focuses on Microsoft’s next-gen software, namely Windows Vista and Office 2007. Ballmer also pointed out that Microsoft has spent $20 billion on R&D the last three years, and that this is the 20th anniversary of Microsoft’s IPO.


As an aside, Todd Bishop has an excellent reprint of an article written on the day of Microsoft’s IPO. It did well, but the media had no idea how huge the stock would be in the future. Bill Gates and Paul Allen were too busy that day, Allen at his new company, and Gates was in Australia. An absolute must-read.


IBM doesn’t seem too happy with Ballmer’s statement. Todd Bishop quotes IBM Lotus VP Ken Bisconti as saying, “Obviously Steve Ballmer is ignoring a fact that he knows very well, that IBM is the No. 2 software products company in the world today, with $15.8 billion in software revenues.”

While IBM may still be pulling in a lot in sales, they have about as much buzz as a dead fly floating in a glass of water. They make Microsoft look more nimble and exciting than Google and Apple combined. Microsoft may be trying to use that to their advantage, pointing to a huge company more boring than themselves, in order to make themselves look a lot more exciting in comparison.

Not the worst idea in the world.

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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

Visit the InsideGoogle blog.

Microsoft Takes Aim At IBM
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