Even as he defended the deal, Ballmer on Thursday seemed conscious of the fact that Microsoft blundered in search by not investing early enough, and suggested that the company has learned a lesson from the long time it took to close the Yahoo deal -- time in which Google continued to grow its already sizeable market share in search.
"In our business in this industry, probably the greatest source of economic value creation is choosing to be in the right businesses early enough," he said. "When you don't choose to be in early enough you have a problem. When you choose to stay out of a business that is economic value creation, you won't grow with the market. If you are picking the right things that's a very important call."
(Nancy Gohring in Seattle contributed to this report.)
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