Lindows.com: Open Letter to Steve Ballmer, Chief Executive Officer Microsoft CorpOct 15, 2002, 20:30 (11 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Robertson)
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Last week you did an interview with analysts Tom Austin and Dave Smith at the Gartner Symposium at which you talked about Lindows.com and had some strong comments about our $199 computer. While we appreciate the exposure, I did want to challenge some of your answers because I thought they were misleading. Below I've taken quotes from your talk that I watched from News.com and from the Gartner website. After each quote, I've added some of my own thoughts. Feel free to email me with any response you might have.
First up, the interviewer asked if lowering the cost of Microsoft software would spur sales of personal computers and open a whole new market.
Ballmer: 'Would there be a material difference in sales between a $475 computer and a $500 computer? ...We're not blind to the issues that you're saying, but we're trying to be smart about it because I don't think people's gut reaction is right. I don't think a $475 machine outsells a $500 machine so radically as to be worth our taking the precipitous action you talk about.'
I think you used a classic 'straw man' argument--where you use incorrect information to draw a favorable but inaccurate conclusion. You're probably right that if the price difference were just $25 then it wouldn't matter all that much, but $25 isn't a realistic number. Rather than work with a hypothetical, lets look at actual numbers for a computer outfitted with Microsoft software versus the identical computer outfitted with LindowsOS. All price quotes are from Walmart.com as of 10/02..."
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