Microsoft has been facing some hard realities this week, but the software giant appears to be rolling with the punches and maintaining its sense of humor, at least with regard to a bizarre April Fool's-type rumor that's making the rounds.
Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdrey stirred up a hornet's nest of speculation Thursday by predicting that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will join Apple CEO Steve Jobs onstage at next month's Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco. No, really, he said that.
Chowdrey claims Apple has bequeathed seven minutes of WWDC stage time to Microsoft, which will reveal that Visual Studio 2010 will support native app development for the iPhone, iPad and Mac, as reported by Barron's.
But Microsoft, through its official Twitter feed, tossed cold water on this speculation and added a dash of sarcasm for good measure. "Steve Ballmer not speaking at [WWDC]. Nor appearing on Dancing with the Stars. Nor riding in the Belmont. Just FYI," Microsoft said in a Thursday tweet.
It's one of the more baffling rumors to arise in quite some time. Ballmer and Jobs onstage together at an Apple event? Ye gods, the chorus of catcalls from the Apple faithful would be deafening! The crowd at WWDC last year hissed like a cargo container full of cobras when it became apparent that the AT&T wouldn't support Wi-Fi tethering or multimedia messaging on the iPhone 3GS when it launched.
What's next? Steve Jobs showing up at Microsoft's TechEd conference in New Orleans next month? Larry Ellison dropping by a cloud computing conference? BP showing up at a conference on environmental responsibility?
If Ballmer were to appear at WWDC, he'd be doing so at a very interesting time. In 2000, Apple's market cap was $15.6 billion and Microsoft's was $556 billion. But Wednesday, Apple surpassed Microsoft's market capitalization, $221 billion to $219.8 billion, taking over the title of world's most valuable tech company.
Microsoft's shares have been on the rise, too, but its fortunes have paled in comparison to Apple, whose shares have doubled over the past year.
However, Ballmer, at an appearance in New Delhi, India, was quick to point out that Microsoft is still more profitable than Apple. In the calendar first quarter of 2010, Microsoft's profit was around $4 billion while Apple's was roughly $3 billion.
"I will make more profits and certainly there is no technology company in the planet which is as profitable as we are," Ballmer said Thursday in a press conference with Microsoft India Chairman Ravi Venkatesan, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.