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Ballmer on Microsoft hardware: More, more, more

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Microsoft has now confirmed what we’ve already suspected: Its hardware ambitions won’t end with the Surface.

Says Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to the BBC:

Is it fair to say we’re going to do more hardware? Obviously we are. We did our first piece of non-Xbox hardware when we launched the Surface. Where we see important opportunities to set a new standard, yeah, we’ll dive in.

What, exactly, will that hardware look like? Most speculation points to a Surface-branded phone, which could emerge as soon as next year. Other potential hardware forays include a smaller, 7-inch Surface tablet, which seems like a no-brainer considering how big that market’s gotten basically overnight.

The problem with any of theses moves, however, is that making its own hardware means Microsoft is also mashing the toes of its hardware partners. That’s bad news for the likes of Nokia, which has struggled enough even without Microsoft as a direct competitor.

Other hardware partners have outright attacked Microsoft’s new hardware strategy. “We have said [to Microsoft] think it over,” Acer CEO JT Wang said in August. “Think twice. It will create a huge negative impact for the ecosystem, and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not something you are good at, so please think twice,” he said.

Criticism aside, Microsoft is showing no signs of abandoning its hardware efforts.

“We have committed ourselves on a path where we will do whatever is required from both a hardware and a software perspective — and the cloud innovation perspective — in order to propel the kind of vision that we have,” Ballmer said.