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Balmer Calls Google's Decision to Leave China - Irrational

   
4:03 am on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Forbes Article [izurl.com]


Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, in a speech to oil company executives in Houston on Thursday, criticized Google for its threats to leave China after cyberattacks allegedly launched by Chinese hackers.

"People are always trying to break into other people's data," said Ballmer. "There's always somebody trying to break into Microsoft."

Ballmer suggested that Google's decision to no longer filter out internet searches objectionable to the Chinese government was an irrational business decision. After all, Ballmer said, the U.S. imports oil from Saudi Arabia despite the censorship that goes on in that country

4:25 am on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I think the comparisons between oil and search are plain crazy. It's like like saying. Yea you can export the oil, but only if you dye it green. That's a closer analogy to the current state of search in China. Yea serve results, but dont serve true results, let us filter and sort them.

I don't see why Steve Ballmer decided to talk about Google.

Mack.

8:27 am on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)



Microsoft's Chinese interest is pretty critical to it's business - both in terms of marketing and R&D, I would guess.
11:32 pm on Jan 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Ballmer is just trying to score cheap marketing points against Google, using posturing and false analogies, just like a politician does against a political opponent. His analogy is totally off base. A better analogy would be refusing to sell arms and/or surveillance equipment to an authoritarian regime.

Yes cyber attacks take place all the time against big companies like Google and Microsoft, but conditions change when the cyber attack is done to benefit a government's effort to silence dissidents.

Would Ballmer be saying the same thing if MSFT had a presence in say Iran and MSFT had been attacked by Iranian operatives out to secure IP and information on Iranian dissidents with the same level of sophistication as those who hit Google? I bet not.

Not everything should be about making a profit at any cost, sometimes a company should stop and think if they really want to enable an authoritarian regime. Maybe, Darth Ballmer as been working for the Evil Empire for too long to realize how evil the quest for profits at any cost is.

6:49 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I don't see why Steve Ballmer decided to talk about Google.

You think he would pass up on a chance to take a shot at Goog?
7:16 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I was wondering how I could send a congratulation card to Google that reads:

Welcome to the "My business website has been hacked club".

Balmers on to something here -

Google! Get over it and yourself...

7:49 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Ah, surely Mr. Ballmer must take pride on the amount of effort and energy he's expended getting onto the list of top ten people to whom nobody on earth would ever go for ethical advice. If Google has been faulted for not always living up to its "do no evil" mission, Ballmer has NEVER been faulted for not living down to his "do no good" mssion.
8:23 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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First, politics: Google now has a size that makes it possible for it to infuence, and even reflect (or implement) policy. This should be seen more as a political action than a business decision.

Second, I believe that Google has around 35% market share in China, Baidu having 60%. So, while that's an awful lot of users it still doesn't make Google the top dog in China. Which also means that if Google leaves China, Baidu will surge to monopoly, and that makes a potential decision to leave ... stupid, business-wise.

IMHO, the Google "threat" to leave is hot air, only stated for the occasion that they might eventually be forced to pack their bags after the political decision to decline to filter SERPS.

I personally think that any amount of censorship is too much censorship, but that's just me. Lately, people (ie. their governments) seem to have become less appreciative of their freedom in some parts of the world. A few of those, English-speaking btw (UK, AUS, NZ...)

(As for GOOG vs MS they are two sides of the same coin. None is more or less evil than the other, suggesting otherwise is myopic)

just my 2 cents

[edited by: claus at 8:45 pm (utc) on Jan. 26, 2010]

8:38 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)



what about this argument?

"The U.S. is the most extreme when it comes to free speech," said Ballmer, noting however that even the U.S. bans child #*$!ography, while France bans internet access to Nazi imagery.

He does have a point when it comes to censorship. I am not equating the right to read Mein Kamph with knowing about Tien An Men, but both are censorship.

9:09 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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"Ballmer" and "irrational" in one title, usually the second applies to the first.

Not sure why he bothers with it, but then I fail to see _any_ logic in the dude at all.

Personally the great firewall of china might be made two way: why let them on the Internet to start with? What good has come from there for me, or most of us ?
In fact quite a few of my sites ban visits from China in order to avoid all sorts of trouble.

9:30 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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"The U.S. is the most extreme when it comes to free speech," said Ballmer

Talk is cheap. I'm not convinced he's actually right. I agree with Mr. Ballmer that the U.S. has much less visible internet censorship than China, but that could be said about most countries of the globe. However, I don't think the U.S. is "the most extreme" in Free Speech, although it's certainly still among the relatively free regions of the world.

However, freedom is fragile. I certainly hope that Mr. Ballmer, as well as my U.S. fellow members here will work actively to make his suggestion come true.

The point Mr. Ballmer should have made in stead is this:

A Microsoft Word program don't give a d**n about what I write on my pages, what kind of pictures I put in my letter, or who I send it to. That, is free speech. Zero censorship.

In my opinion, that is how free the internet should be. Either there is zero censorship, or there is too much censorship.

9:46 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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At least someone is "thinking" of standing up China. It is their country and their rules, but many of the people living their don't have a choice of where to live.

It is obvious Microsoft would never do such a move.

9:51 pm on Jan 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Yea you can export the oil, but only if you dye it green. That's a closer analogy to the current state of search in China.

Are you saying the oil companies would refuse to die the oil green if there was profit in it? You're kidding right? :-)

2:00 am on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Some of these comments are a bit over the top, and reveal bias... but that's okay, we all have a bias, though some of us keep them in reserve.
7:41 am on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I believe that Mr Steve Ballmer forgot that some time in the past the USA Black Citizens were forced to set in the back seats of a bus :).

a country like Saudi Arabia still new (compared to countries ages), 80% of censorship happening there is by a USA Government pressure lol.

Countries self-interest play big role here, when USA need oil, it don't care if Saudi Gov even make a censorship on Saudi people underwear's color.

I hate when business men acting like angels!

8:38 am on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Steve Ballmer has a point where it comes to the relation between the hack attempts and the censorship. Although it is not official, there are without doubt hack attempts sponsored, or at least allowed by the US government against the IT systems of some countries like Iran, North Korea etc. Illegally trying to obtain sensitive information from foreign governments and large companies is much older than the internet and it even has a name: espionage.

But it shouldn't be the single reason for a company to stop its commercial activities in a certain country. I personally doubt it is the single reason. In my opinion Google either uses it as an argument for a decision they already made on other (commercial?) grounds to leave China, or they think that they have so much power that their decision can change the Chinese government in their approach to censorship.

If they think the latter, they will certainly have to move out of China. Many governments can be influenced by threats of large companies or careful lobbying, but the Chinese government has a very strict top-down approach.

10:44 am on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Ballmer's speech is embarrassing.
It seemed like a chance to give Google a kick, but Ballmer just ended up looking foolish.
1. Yes, everyone gets hacked. Not everyone gets hacked by a foreign government so they can spy on their own citizens.
2. Excuse me, free speech is "extreme"? And equating bans on child ----ography with the censorship in China where political discourse or sites that explain or promote democracy are banned is beyond stupid.
12:55 pm on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Steve who?

Too many people are already pushing agendas and wanting to have Google make their cases, how very forgetful they become, so 1990's.

5:14 pm on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Although it is not official, there are without doubt hack attempts sponsored, or at least allowed by the US government against the IT systems of some countries like Iran, North Korea etc.

That's true but the Chinese attack against western companies (it was far more than just Google) remains the largest and most sophisticated attack in history against a non governement organization. There is no precident for it, and some kind of response was necessary IMO.

6:21 pm on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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>I hate when business men acting like angels!

You ought to hang around a better class of business men. You could learn to enjoy it.

But in the meantime, here's something for you to REALLY hate, a reminder that bigotry against business men is not always well founded, and not all companies are alike: Sun Computers signs off with a message from its founder:

"Sun did not cheat, lie, or break the rule of law or decency. While we enjoyed breaking the rules of conventional wisdom and archaic business practice, and for sure loved to win in the market, we did so with a solid reputation for integrity. Nearly three decades of competing without a notable incident of our folks going off course morally or legally. Not all executives and big companies are bad. Really. There are good companies out there. Special thanks to all of my employees for this. I never had to hide the newspaper in shame from my children."

Thanks, Scott McNealy, for some really good products, for some fine standards, and for saying what Ballmer and Gates will never be able to.

6:56 pm on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Special thanks to all of my employees for this. I never had to hide the newspaper in shame from my children.

Classic way of putting it. The problem is other CEO's have no sense of shame.
7:22 pm on Jan 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I wonder how M$ will react if someone steals the source code of Windows and uses wholes it finds in it to take control of innocent people's computers.

Wait, hold on a second; I know the answer.

M$ will keep doing business there.

8:04 pm on Jan 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Are you saying the oil companies would refuse to die the oil green if there was profit in it? You're kidding right? :-)

Would you have any idea where I can purchase green oil futures. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity.

12:20 am on Feb 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Yes, Balmer is so correct. I look at him as a rational voice of reasoning :)
3:49 am on Feb 4, 2010 (gmt 0)



Steve who?


Out of the many things you can say about Steve Balmer, 'Steve who' is not it. He is quite well known and a strong force. The Chinese have a habit of holding grudges and Google has more than the search engine.
9:53 pm on Feb 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google has more than the search engine

exactly this is the point- being a prognosticator (maybe a bad one) google will just put more effort in marketing their other products like chrome or android to gather data.
 

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