In part 3 of his interview with Techcrunch, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laid some choice tidbits for us to dissect…like the following:

The most successful [IE competitor] by far is Firefox. Chrome is a rounding error to date. Safari is a rounding error to date. But Firefox is not. The fact that there’s a lot of competitors probably is to our advantage. Yeah, we’re right now about 74 percent overall with the browser market, roughly speaking. But we’re having to compete like heck with IE 8, with great new features. The other guys are getting more and more unanticipated competitive attack factors, the thing that Google announced yesterday where they replaced IE but they don’t tell you. I mean that’s how I would say it. For all intents and purposes of what they’re doing IE is not there. It’s their operating system. Instead of now masked as browser, it’s masked as a plug in basically to IE. So, you know, we’re going to have to compete like heck and you know, see where things go. The one thing that’s unclear is what’s the economic play for anybody else competing with us at the browser level. Is this all about kind of controlling the search box or is it about something else?

Marketshare from Aug 2009 NetApplications

Think the the IE Chrome Frame annoyed Ballmer at all? 

Other things that are around 7% of market share: Bing search engine and Mac Hardware in the US.  Two other things that Microsoft doesn’t focus on or care about. 

Would he call Bing a rounding error?  Why is he being so sensitive on browsers? Perhaps he’s a little worried that IE is heading toward the magic 50%.

Internet Explorer marketshare over the years

Speaking of Mac, Ballmer had some words for Apple’s desktop product.

Mr. BALLMER: Here’s Windows and Windows is a very successful product. How do you attack Windows? Well, you attack with the high end, and hardware. That’s an attack. That’s – I won’t call it the Snow Leopard attack. I’ll call it the Mac attack of which Snow Leopard is a piece. You could attack from the side. That’s the Chrome – Firefox attack. You can attack from cheap, from below. You’re not from the side. You’re one on one, but that’s kind of a Linux, Android, presumably Chrome OS, who knows, attack vector. You can attack through phones that grow up. You know, mama don’t let your phones grow up to be PCs or something. I don’t know. But that’s another attack vector. So, you could say how do I feel about all these attack vectors? Strong, I feel very strong here.

I mean, we’re gaining share. Apple is expensive. And in tough economic environment, people get it. Their model is, by definition, expensive. And we’ve actually held or maybe even gained just a tiny bit of share relative to the Mac in the last 12 months. And it’s not really Snow Leopard. It’s really Windows PCs versus Mac.

That’s the trade-off. We’ve done extremely well versus Linux-powered machines with the Androids or Linux and we’ve done that primarily by having a better solution and being willing to do the right thing from our pricing perspective. And Windows 7 will only make this, I think, more competitive here.

Not sure where he’s been getting his numbers.  Apple has been outperforming the overall PC market for the last 480 quarters in a row or something.  Could you call this a fib?

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