Microsoft will not challenge Amazon Kindle for e-reader market

Sure, bring your books to Microsoft Reader software, Ballmer says. But no dice on an actual Microsoft e-reader.

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E-readers? Microsoft doesn't need 'em. Thus opined Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO and tech oracle. Speaking off-camera at an event in the Netherlands, Ballmer said that Microsoft already has "a device for reading. It's the most popular device in the world. It's the PC."

"I would love to see companies like Amazon and others bring their books to the PC," Ballmer told a reporter for the Reuters news agency. "Hopefully we can get that to happen with Barnes & Noble or Amazon or somebody. But no, we are not interested in e-readers ourselves."

Microsoft already manufacturers Microsoft Reader, a free, downloadable software application which can be used on PCs. Microsoft Reader also supports tablet PCs.

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Ballmer is known as a tireless – and occasionally overenthusiastic – promoter of innovation. In an open email to executives this fall, Ballmer claimed he was bullish on the prospects of the IT industry, despite the dips and dives of the economy.

“I’m optimistic because there are encouraging signs that growth may resume in many parts of the world during the course of the next year,” Ballmer wrote. “More than that, I’m optimistic because I believe we are entering a period of technology-driven transformation that will see a surge in productivity and a flowering of innovation.”

Back in May, Microsoft unveiled its Bing search engine, which has consistently gobbled up shares of the search market. A caveat: In September, the Web analytics firm StatCounter reported that Bing lost some of its momentum, while Google expanded its dominance over US audiences.

The breakdown from StatCounter gave 8.5 percent of the market to Bing in September, compared to 80 percent for Google.

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