Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, at the annual shareholder meeting, guarded his company’s record on innovation and financial performance but agreed that he should have taken plunge in the tablet market long back before Apple took the Tablet market by storm.
Bill Gates, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft was silent throughout the meeting, attended by about 450 shareholders.
“We’re innovating on the seam between software and hardware,” said Ballmer, asked why his company had fallen behind rival Apple. “Maybe we should have done that earlier.”
Microsoft Surface Tablet came into the market a month ago but still the sales figure has not been surfaced.
In the tablet market, “we see nothing but a sea of upside,” Ballmer said, an acknowledgement that until now Microsoft has effectively had zero presence in the tablet market.
“I feel pretty good about our level of innovation,” he added.
Ballmer said smartphones running Microsoft’s new Windows software were selling four times as much as they did at this time last year.
Windows has captured 2 to 4 percent global smartphone market which is slow, given that the sales of other smartphones – mostly running Google’s Android system – are on a high
Ballmer, flanked by Gates and Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein, was asked by several shareholders to explain Microsoft’s lackluster share price, which has been stuck for a decade, and has been outperformed by Apple and Google Inc stock in recent years.
“I understand your comment,” he told one shareholder. He went on to explain that Microsoft had “done a phenomenal job of driving product volumes” and was focusing on profiting from that growth.
He suggested that whether investors recognized that value at any given time was out of his hands.
“The stock market’s kind of a funny thing,” he said, adding that Microsoft had handed back $10 billion in dividends and share buybacks to investors in the last fiscal year.