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Posted on October 2nd, 2008 by Stuart Turton

Ballmer vs Jobs

Ballmer in LondonI went to see Steve Ballmer speak in London yesterday. For anybody who’s not had the pleasure, here’s a few simple steps to aid you in recreating the experience. Pick up your chair, pop it in the car and drive to the airport, then sit yourself behind the engine of a Boeing 747 and wait for takeoff. When it blasts you through air traffic control, you’ve pretty much had the experience of Steve Ballmer in full flow.

 He’s a force of nature. He stalks the stage like some slightly crazed but bizarrely literate bear stalking the bars of its cage. He barks his way through his speech, stops, heads off on tangents, U-turns, growls, snarls and flicks insults at rivals with the lethal precision of a ninja throwing shurikens. Take this from yesterday…

“Google has great search, but not much else. They don’t have much for enterprise, collaboration, email … They’re trying, but they’re not there yet.”

 When he bounded onto stage yesterday, he began speaking at a volume that caused every squirrel in a fifteen mile radius to immediately drop out of its tree dead. People in the audience were frozen in shock, as if a whale had just arrived on stage in a bowler hat and started singing showtunes. And halfway through this carnage, it dawned on me. I was being entertained. Contrary to popular perception, Ballmer is a charasmatic man, who is very quick and very funny. 

They’re rare qualities to find among hard-headed business folk. If you doubt it, go and watch the recent Android launch presented by the heads of T-Mobile, Google and HTC. I guarantee, when you’re done, you’ll have grounds to sue for emotional damage. What really interests me though is the other, supposed, practioneer of these qualities – Mr Steve Jobs.

Attending a Jobs keynote is a surreal experience. Not least because I’ve never seem him speak beyond an Apple-hosted event. It’s like a football team that refuses to play away games, and it means everything’s in his favour. A good 80% of the people attending the event would applaud a can of spam if it had an Apple logo on it. PRs begin clapping a few seconds before everyone else, just so the rest of us know when to whoop and holler. And then he arrives with his jeans, black polo neck and speech prepared to within an inch of its life, so that any hint of spontaneity is completely crushed out of it. 

Don’t believe me? Then let’s play the “Jobs’ stock phrase” game: Just cut out the following list of stock phrases and count them off at his next keynote - ”Isn’t that fantastic?” – “I’d like to show it to you, if you’d let me?” – “We think that’s pretty cool” – “It’s awesome”.

The entire thing reminds me of one of those rubbish 70s sitcoms chock full of tired, old catchphrases instead of innovative new ideas. As for Job as a showman? Well he likes to wave his arms a bit.

None of which is a reflection of their business savy, of course. All that concerns me here, is the image put forth by the Mac community that Steve Jobs is some kind of incredible showman, able to stop time with a bat of his eyelids, and the world with a movement of his lips. It’s a lie. He’s just a very clever man in a polo neck. Give me Ballmer any day of the week. 


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12 Responses to “ Ballmer vs Jobs ”

  1. james016 Says:
    October 2nd, 2008 at 3:40 pm


  2. Robert Says:
    October 3rd, 2008 at 2:57 am

    I found two videos for comparison. The first is Steve Jobs Stanford University Commencement address. The second is Steve Ballmers TV pitch for Windows 1.0.

    I think the viewers can make up their own mind without help from your opinions.

  3. Victor Panlilio Says:
    October 3rd, 2008 at 7:41 am

    “Give me Ballmer any day of the week.”

    Which illustrates your good judgment ? or, more precisely, your lack of it.

  4. BigMac Says:
    October 3rd, 2008 at 11:19 am


    Not a very fair comparison though, is it? Still, made me laugh…


    It illustrates an opinion, nothing more, nothing less.

    I’m always amazed at how grumpy the Mac faithful can be…… sheesh

  5. Jarod Says:
    October 3rd, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Ballhead is an embarrassment to the human race and the absolute failure for corporation. That fat f**k is the dumbest, most clueless, tub of lard who’s only worthy doing in his whole existence is to sleep in the same room as Bill Gates in college. Other than that, this moron would be lucky to pick up garbage for the city.

  6. Don Says:
    October 3rd, 2008 at 11:51 am

    This must be a left-brain right-brain thing. Who wants to be bellowed at by a [semi-] literate bear?

  7. Mike Peter Reed Says:
    October 3rd, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    This article is pure link bait.

    Apple rehearses stuff … and shockingly a lot of the time “they get it right” (the marketing).

    Microsoft are spontaneous (apparently) … and shockingling a lot of the time they are subject to absolute consumer apathy.

    Not being prepared is being prepared to fail.

  8. sleepy Says:
    October 3rd, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Steve Jobs almost exclusively presents products, in detail, with extraordinary clarity and precision. It’s not a personality thing, or a novelty thing. Just show and tell on Apple’s latest products, placing them in the best possible light.

    It’s only because Apple’s products are so good, its prior secrecy so complete, and Steve Jobs’ execution so perfect that the media chooses to call it instead showmanship and hype. He and Apple have thought deeply about these products and put a lot of personal effort into them, and it shows in the presentations.

    Steve Balmer OTOH is just a salesman who got lucky by knowing Bill Gates.

  9. muck Says:
    October 6th, 2008 at 7:46 am

    I’m guessing all those that disagree with you are the Apple rats following their pied piper. As you say, create a tin of spam, put an Apple logo on it and watch the cash flood in.

  10. watch satellite tv on computer Says:
    November 3rd, 2008 at 3:01 am

    watch satellite tv on computer…

    Not many people know about this. Thanks for sharing….

  11. steveballmer Says:
    January 24th, 2009 at 4:58 am

    I am so impressive!

  12. stevejobs Says:
    December 2nd, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    We think I’m cool. Don’t you? That’s awesome.


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