Ballmer Takes on the "Apple Tax"

By  |  Friday, March 20, 2009 at 9:32 am

03-16ballmer-peoleready_lgMicrosoft CEO Steve Ballmer can’t seem to help himself when it comes to talking smack on Apple. His latest comments came at a media summit in New York held by publisher McGraw-Hill, where he claimed Apple consumers pay an extra $500 for the Apple logo. He seems to infer that the economic conditions have helped Windows turn the tide against the Cupertino juggernaut. He also took the opportunity to prove both his Microsoft and American gravitas too.

We now know that the Ballmer family does not own a single Apple product, and he drives American cars. I don’t know, but that almost seemed a subtle dig in and of itself towards the Apple faithful. What does the stereotypical user drive? Volvos, Volkswagens, BMW’s… in other words, foreign cars.

Yes, Ballmer is outspoken. But sometimes I look at this guy, and am reminded of this video — and I just don’t take some of what he says all too seriously.


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Marc Says:

    The Apple Tax is blatant and there for all to see. It’s just that Mac fanboys don’t regard it as a tax, as they consider the extra cost ‘worth it’.

    I say this as an ex-apple fanboy. Back in 2004 I got fed up with the endless upgrades that were required to get things Windows and Linux users take for granted, like browser and Java updates. Not to mention half of the new stuff I was paying for didn’t work on my older machine (yes, my *3 year* old “older” machine!).

    It’s a cyclical thing. Get drawn in by the brilliant marketing and shiny gadgets, end up paying over the odds. Wake up with an Apple hangover a few years later. There’s no doubting that the iPhone and iPod are great, and I bet you I owned an iPod before you did, before they were “cool”.

    I’m just saying don’t buy Apple and claim you’ve got the best value, you’re paying over the odds, and if you’re happy with that, then fair enough. People pay more for jeans and other fashion accessories if they have trendy a brand name – it’s the same thing. That’s why businesses buy Windows, because they know 10 years later it will be supported, and Microsoft’s latest browser will still work with it. Does the latest Safari work with OS 10.3?

    Apple have the best designers, but more importantly, the best salesmen.

  2. tom b Says:

    “Does the latest Safari work with OS 10.3?” Does IE 8 work with Win2000? My understanding is that it doesn’t.

    But back to Ballmer: the guy’s an idiot. I have used a Mac at home and Windows at work since the days of Windows 95 (longer for the Mac). I am fluent in BOTH platforms. I wouldn’t own a Windows PC if you gave me one. They aren’t worth the extra annoyance, IMHO. I’d rather pay a little more $ for a Mac (and not $500 more, like monkey-boy says) for a LOT less annoyance and a lot MORE security.

  3. Steven Fisher Says:

    You’re definitely spending more on an Apple than if you build the computer yourself or buy from most budget resellers. You (usually) end up with a better-designed computer, but let’s put that aside. Let’s take for granted for a moment there’s an “Apple tax.”

    $500?!? Is Ballmer completely insane?

  4. rattyuk Says:


    I see that the PC fanboys are set to stun.

    “I say this as an ex-apple fanboy. Back in 2004 I got fed up with the endless upgrades that were required to get things Windows and Linux users take for granted, like browser and Java updates. Not to mention half of the new stuff I was paying for didn’t work on my older machine (yes, my *3 year* old “older” machine!).”

    This is just the latest meme kicking about the internet. You have to start any attack on Apple with the phrase “I used to be an Apple Fanboy”. Yeah, so you last experience was pre-Intel and you were left on the side. Sorry. But tough. Just like all the guys that bought a PC that was stickered with “made for Vista” before launch only to find that it was some backroom deal at M$ that made that sticker appear at all.

    Most worrying thing of all though is that IF the boss of Microsoft really thinks that this is all marketing and people are paying the extra $500 for the logo then the company is “f***ed” because that is so not what it is. Slagging something off because it is the competition with such pathetic reasons is being blind to what is actually happening. Oh and the “schadenfreude” on saying Apple lost sales in Feb – which was the month when machines were being prepped for the upgrades which hit earlier this month. Let’s see where things are next month before we see Apple decaying. He didn’t say much that in the last 3 years apple has gone from 2% to 9% market share. A one month, one percent drop in market share is NOTHING to get smug about. Let’s see what happens when Apple launch the new iPhones in June / July.

  5. Jose Alvear Says:

    If Apple does come out with a netbook or a large screen iPod Touch, then this can put the company back in play with those on a budget. These products will probably still be more expensive than competing Windows products, but it will put Apple back in the lower-end computing marketing.

    Even though I’ve used PC desktops and laptops all my life, I would definitely buy a MacBook–if they were less expensive. All I need is a fast, small, lightweight yet powerful laptop for taking work on the road. I don’t need a big bulky laptop with a DVD drive or anything fancy.

    Hopefully Apple listens to what’s going on and comes out with a breakthrough Netbook device soon.

  6. Zack! Says:

    I’m pretty confused by the whole “doesn’t own Windows and drives American cars” thing. Is he trying to insinuate that Apple isn’t American? If so, he’s an idiot. Or he’s just capitalizing on all the patriotism that’s been going around lately.

    Besides, some of us Apple users just prefer foreign cars.

  7. Jeff Says:

    The Microsoft tax is more. It’s headaches upon headaches because Microsoft software is cumbersome, clunky and most importantly not secure. That last fact leads to the consumer spending more money in two ways.
    1. In the way of new computers because the old one failed or repairs to removing viruses, malware, etc.
    2. Buying firewall and virus software so the first doesn’t happen.
    All that adds up to more than $500.

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