The IT industry's answer to Marcel Marceau, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, has found himself defending Microsoft's record on innovation and financial performance at the annual shareholders' meeting.
According to Reuters, Ballmer thought that his company had done enough on the innovation and money side. He did admit that Redmond should have moved faster to get into the booming tablet market dominated by Apple's iPad.
Ballmer told the meeting that he was innovating on the seam between software and hardware. No one was quite sure what he meant as most software and hardware is not stitched together and if it was there would be no room to innovate between two layers of pastiche together fabric.
Boldly mixing metaphors which had never been mixed before, Ballmer said in the tablet market, he saw "nothing but a sea of upside". Reuters thinks he meant that things could only get better because Microsoft has effectively had zero presence in the tablet market. We were just curious about how a sea of upside could actually work. We would have throught that a sea of upside would turn into a big puddle pretty quickly, thanks to gravity.
Ballmer said he "felt pretty good" about Microsoft's level of innovation. We were told he was fascinated by the technology which meant that his chair went all the way around and could tilt backwards.
He claimed that smartphones running Microsoft's new Windows software were selling four times as much as they did at this time last year. Given the fact that Microsoft did not really have a full time operating system for the smartphone last year this is not the miracle that he claimed.
Ballmer, flanked by Bill Gates and Chief Financial Officer Peter Klein, was asked by several shareholders to explain Microsoft's lackluster share price.
He told the shareholders that Microsoft had "done a phenomenal job of driving product volumes" and was focusing on profiting from that growth.
The fact that shareholders failed to recognise Microsoft's true value was not really his fault.
Ballmer said that the "stock market's kind of a funny thing" but did not give away the punch line.