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Ballmer dismisses Dropbox as a 'little startup' with 100 million users

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Steve Ballmer Microsoft stock
Steve Ballmer Microsoft stock

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has dismissed Dropbox as a "fine little startup" in an interview with Bloomberg this week. Discussing the recent launch of Office 2013 and Microsoft's late entry into the cloud with its SkyDrive service, Ballmer says that 100 million Dropbox users is a "pretty small number" in comparison to the number of Office users. "We’ve got a lot more Office users," he says, while discussing Hotmail and SkyDrive users too.

Ballmer confident Office can grow, despite competition from Google

On the topic of Office users, Ballmer seems confident that Microsoft can push past 1 billion Office users and continue to attract customers despite increased competition from Google Apps and others. "That number is going to grow," he exclaims, noting that more and more information and knowledge workers and students will require access to productivity software. Microsoft is aiming big with Office 2013 and Office 365, pushing users to subscribe to the service for an annual or monthly fee — a big break away from its traditional model of selling perpetual licences.

Ballmer's comments mirror similar statements he has made about rivals in the past. Ballmer has laughed at Chrome OS and the iPhone, and claimed you need to be a computer scientist to use Android. However, Microsoft has had to spend money on acquiring companies over the years to catch up and better strengthen its own products. The software maker acquired Skype in 2011 for $8.5 billion and Yammer last year for $1.2 billion — both products are being tightly integrated into Office.

Ballmer rounds off the interview by refusing to comment on Office Mobile for iPad, but he does provide a hint that we might see it soon. "We’ll see what we see in the future," he says, while expressing his pride in the Office products released this week. Office Mobile for iPad is expected to debut by March, with an Android version to follow.