Microsoft and Apple are both two-trick ponies: Steve Ballmer

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Steve Ballmer, who stepped down as Microsoft’s CEO in February, did a speech last month at Oxford Union but some of it’s extended excerpts were recently made public online.  Ballmer, passing Bill Gates to become Microsoft’s largest shareholder, said “I’m nervous” at the beginning of his talk, “this is the first I’ll give and maybe my last if it doesn’t go well”.  He talked about the future of Microsoft, Facebook and Whatsapp, open source software and many other things. Although, one of the most interesting parts from the talk was when he referred Microsoft and Apple each as a “two-trick pony”.

According to Ballmer, a lot of successful companies are “one-trick ponies” like Coca-Cola. He said, Coca-Cola invented one thing and sustained a profitable business by getting it right. “In a lot of businesses, you are forced to do a second trick or you die,” said Ballmer, referring to Microsoft and Apple. Apple invented the Macintosh and then also got its hands on low power touch computing.  Microsoft got into personal computing, then getting that technology adopted by businesses.  He said, a lot of businesses are forced to do a second trick or they die. 

Steve Ballmer is also scheduled to speak at the University of Washington commencement next month on the 14th.