While Bill Gates looked on, Microsoft shareholders asked CEO Steve Ballmer about Apple at their annual meeting this morning. Steve's CEO-speak responses illustrate the larger problem.
Portfolio reports that one investor asked about the company's reputation with young customers:
"I'm just wondering why your marketing group can't do something to try to rein in this next generation, because you've got a real bad image out there."He also said that Apple's ads make Microsoft look like "a buffoon." That's when the CEO-speak began.
"There's certainly always opportunities for improvement," Ballmer said. "[There is] ... a group of people with whom our market share is less."
When you hear "opportunity for improvement," you're screwed. Euphemistic language clouds meaning and hides the truth. Think "economic downturn" and "previously enjoyed" instead of "depression" and "used." Or "opportunity for improvement" instead of "problem."
Remember the Windows Mojave ads, in which producers tricked customers into thinking Vista was an unreleased version of Windows, only to then throw open the curtain and essentially say, "See? It's really Vista! You DO like it! There's nothing wrong here!"
Instead of telling people what they like, sanitizing language, insisting that the only reason the iPhone has 75,000 apps available is to make it usable on the Internet and denying your kids iPods, just say, "Our reputation with young people is poor and here's what we'll do about it." That's when you'll get something done.