If Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had a twin brother, it would be his COO Kevin Turner. Like Ballmer, he stalks the stage like a hungry bear and verbally shakes the audience by the lapels into joining the war effort to beat the competition.
Speaking at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston Wednesday before 15,000 attendees, Turner said: "We have high respect but no fear of competitors. ... We are doubling down and making sure we are fighting and evangelizing our story."
The doubling down and product story is about devices and services, which is likely to be at the center of an expected Microsoft reorganization taking place Thursday.
On the device side, Turner said that the PC market, which has been in decline, is not how Microsoft views its future market opportunity. With its unified Windows operating system strategy, Microsoft will measure its success by its market share of nearly 3 billion devices in 2017, according to Gartner Research.
However, Microsoft has a long way to go to catch up with rivals in the tablet and phone arena. Turner said that Microsoft's ecosystem, which builds Windows devices and mobile apps, is 18 to 24 months behind where he wants it to be, but it is "catching up."
He characterized Microsoft as a "distant third" in the smartphone race, but said the company will "keep fighting and keep after it and make sure we get the share we need to drive." For the three-month period ending May 2013, Android had 52 percent of U.S. smartphone sales, followed by iOS with nearly 42 percent, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. Windows grew nearly 1 percent year over year to 4.6 percent. IDC estimated that Microsoft had 3.2 percent of worldwide share in the first quarter of 2013.
Turner told the partner audience that Microsoft is "finding its rhythm in phones" and expressed pleasure that Windows Phone is now the "No. 3 phone OS on the planet" and is growing at a rate 6 times faster than the rest of the smartphone platforms. He also said that Windows Phone has more market share than Apple's iOS in 10 "big" countries. The largest carrier in Russia, OAO Mobile TeleSystems, recently dropped the iPhone.
"[Apple] was demanding too much, and the Windows Phone's popularity helped them understand they don't need the iPhone," Turner said.
Turner concluded, "If you bet on Microsoft, you are not going to ask anymore, 'Hey, where is the innovation?' The challenge going forward is how do we keep up with it." He also said that Microsoft is delivering innovation faster than anyone can embrace it, and that the company's new fiscal year, which began July 1, will be the biggest year of innovation in its 38-year history.
Microsoft has been making a major pivot, turning its massive battleship around over the past few years, to become more viable as a device and services company as the PC business fades. Turner told his business partners during his keynote that competition is a test of will and that great competitors refuse to lose. He gave an example of the Microsoft fighting spirit in regaining 250 business accounts for cloud Office that had gone over to Google Apps. It's a start at recovering huge territory that was lost over the past decade as Apple, Google, Amazon, Samsung, Facebook, Salesforce, and others colonized the new world of mobile devices and services.