PCs are best for e-reading, Microsoft's Ballmer says

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (Reuters) - Microsoft has no plans to develop a digital book reader to compete with the fast-growing popularity of Amazon’s Kindle or a device that rival Apple is reportedly developing.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Microsoft Corporation Steve Ballmer gestures during a news conference to present the new Windows 7 operating system in Munich October 7, 2009. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said Microsoft had no need for its own e-reader, since it already supplies the software that runs the most popular device for electronic reading.

“We have a device for reading. It’s the most popular device in the world. It’s the PC,” Ballmer said on Thursday on the sidelines of television show recording at Erasmus University in the Netherlands.

The No. 1 software maker’s Windows operating system runs nine out 10 of the world’s personal computers.

Ballmer also said Microsoft would also be willing to work with Amazon to bring more books to the personal computer, days after the online retailer vastly expanded its Kindle reading device’s global footprint to 100 countries.

“I would love to see companies like Amazon and others bring their books to the PC,” Ballmer said. “Hopefully we can get that to happen with Barnes & Noble or Amazon or somebody,” Ballmer said.

“But no, we are not interested in e-readers ourselves.”

E-readers are expected to be a hot gift item in the upcoming holiday season, and industry research firm Forrester this week hiked its forecast for U.S. e-reader sales by 50 percent to 3 million units.

Apple is reportedly developing a new device that can work as a digital reader, and technology watchers have said Microsoft may also be considering such a move.

The software maker already markets its Microsoft Reader for PC-based book reading and supports tablet PCs.

Editing by Georgina Prodhan and David Cowell