Ballmer “everywhere I go I see paper and pencils; there is still room for innovation” #ebg

BallmerI attended an EBG (Electronic Business Group, an influential French e-business Think-Tank) conference on Nov 8 in Paris, at which Steve Ballmer was speaking. It has taken a while to process my notes but here they are at last, sometimes answering my questions about the future of Microsoft, sometimes not. However, undoubtedly, Ballmer has managed to captivate the massive audience in the small theatre room of the Espace Pierre Cardin at the Heart of Paris, France. Ballmer was interviewed by EBG’s founder and Secretary General, Pierre Reboul. Steve Ballmer is also a member of the board of directors of EBG.

There has been a great deal of questions asked about the future of Microsoft lately, with regard to their apparent inability to cope with the mobile market (even by Gates’s own admission). However, it would be wrong to think that Microsoft has lost the War even though it may have lost a few battles. As a matter of fact, the software giant from Redmond, Wash. is still very strong in many areas, including Business Cloud, enterprise collaboration (more than 70% market share with SharePoint, not to mention yammer), home gaming with the very successful Xbox platform, and of course, Microsoft office which is, like it or not, still broadly used, despite a flurry of free more or less open source office suites which are available from the Internet. Yet, Microsoft’s business models are challenged, Office is slowly turning into a pay per use model with Office 365 and Windows 8 is just about coming back to life after a much awaited 8.1 facelift a couple of weeks ago. So where is Microsoft headed? That is the question. Let us see what Steve Ballmer, the current CEO who is soon to retire, has to say about this, even though he has managed to evade quite a few questions…

Right after the introduction , Steve Ballmer answered a question about the newly released surface 2 tablet. “Surface 2, is the evidence that Microsoft is moving from regular PCs to becoming a device company” Steve Ballmer explained, therefore confirming the impression is that many analysts had had, after the announcement of the purchase of Nokia, or rather as part of Nokia as Mr Ballmer explained a few moments later.

Does that mean that Microsoft is going to stop working with OEMs? “I would say something different” Ballmer said. “We continue to work with OEMs, but we will produce more devices”. Microsoft is definitely choosing a different path from Apple, its model seems to be far more akin to Google’s, even though its business model is a lot different.


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immersion corporation makes retro gaming experience richer on tablets #mwc12

Reporting live from mobile world congress from Barcelona for Orange Live

Immersion is a San Jose based company which was set up 18 years ago in order to develop force feedback controllers for joystick and other gaming equipment manufacturers such as Sony, Logitech etc. Immersion is now moving into mobile gaming and is working with mobile and tablet device manufacturers in order to add force-feedback into mobile gaming.

Fancy playing Grand Theft Auto on your Android tablet with the same kind of user experience as you used to have on a console or personal computer? Well, this is possible and I even tried it and it works. Immersion, a Nasdaq listed company based in San Jose, Cal. has developed drivers which make it possible for old games like Sonic or GTA to be played on Android tablets with a richer experience. Thanks to the technology developed by immersion, one can get force feedback when slamming the doors of a car or bumping into cars or buildings (don’t try this in real life!). The device is no longer passive and therefore you can have the best of both worlds: the mobile world and the retro game world.

The company is more or less in “stealth mode” to put it in the words of the person I interviewed on the stand, hidden behind large manufacturers of Android tablets that wish to use retro gaming as a means to attract consumers to their Android-based tablets. “Android is open source” the immersion representative said “and therefore, one can gain a lot of control on the platform”.

a new haptic experience

This new haptic experience is made possible through the registration of 1,200 patents, the immersion representative declared. “The software is free” he added, as “we want developers to be able to use it and develop on it; they produce good content and that makes it possible for us to partner with manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Toshiba, Fujistu to name a few”.

As Glenn Le Santo pointed out in his story on the Live Orange Blog, the mobile world congress is not just about large brands but also a myriad small companies which are part of this ecosystem and make it thrive.