Microsoft Corp.: In Sync With Detroit

Steve Ballmer addresses discusses Microsofts collaboration with Ford and the future of manufacturing during the National Summit

Late last month, Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally handed over the keys of a Ford Fusion hybrid to Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer to mark the 1 millionth vehicle produced with an in-car digital system developed by the two companies.

The system, called SYNC, allows consumers to operate electronic devices, such as iPods and cellphones, through voice commands or steering wheel controls. Ballmer touted the development as technology creating new opportunities for traditional manufacturing sectors, such as the auto industry.

"These information technology trends aren't just going to change the information-technology industry, they're going to have an impact on other industries," said Ballmer during the National Summit economic forum in Detroit on June 17.

Ballmer also mentioned Microsoft's efforts to create an integrated health information system called Amalga that combines all patient health care data into one platform along with Health Vault, which allows patients to electronically share their health information with providers.

Ballmer made the comments just weeks after his Redmond, Wash.-based company reached a milestone, selling its 30 millionth Xbox 360 console globally. But like most manufacturers, Microsoft has felt the effects of the sluggish economy.

Microsoft Corp.
At A Glance


Microsoft Corp.
Redmond, Wash.
Primary Industry: Computers & Other Electronic Products
Number of Employees: 91,000
2008 In Review
Revenue: $60.42 billion
Profit Margin: 29.26%
Sales Turnover: 0.83
Inventory Turnover: 10.98
Revenue Growth: 18.19%
Return On Assets: 27.99%
Return On Equity: 56.86%
Third-quarter profit dropped 32% from the year-earlier period to $3 billion, or 33 cents per share. Revenue fell 6% to $4.4 billion, the company said in an April earnings statement.

Ballmer said the key to ensuring future success for manufacturing is continued investment in innovation and education.

"We also need to provide ongoing education and training to people who are already in the workforce," he said in his National Summit speech. "In Detroit, I think we can see all too clearly how hard it is for people with 20th-century work skills to find jobs that require 21st-century knowledge. We need to ensure that no American worker is left behind as technology advances, and new skills become essential for success in this industry, the auto industry, the technology industry and others."

Microsoft will release its fourth-quarter results on July 23.


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