Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer discussed the Surface’s sales debut with The Wall Street Journal, saying, “Numerically there’s not really much that’s interesting to report.” But that’s not why this article is compelling. At one point, Ballmer shares this story with Journal writer Shira Ovide:
“I was at a dinner in San Francisco last week, and I brought out this beautiful, very thin [touch-screen] laptop, and they said, ‘Wow, I never thought touch could be valuable and important in a laptop.'”
Who talks like that? “I never thought touch could be valuable and important in a laptop.” Answer: nobody.
In 2007, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer served up the tastiest bowl of claim chowder ever during an exchange David Lieberman of USA Today:
Lieberman: “People get passionate when Apple comes out with something new — the iPhone; of course, the iPod. Is that something that you’d want them to feel about Microsoft?”
Ballmer: “It’s sort of a funny question. Would I trade 96% of the market for 4% of the market? (Laughter.) I want to have products that appeal to everybody.
Now we’ll get a chance to go through this again in phones and music players. There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.
In the case of music, Apple got out early. They were the first to really recognize that you couldn’t just think about the device and all the pieces separately. Bravo. Credit that to Steve (Jobs) and Apple. They did a nice job.
But it’s not like we’re at the end of the line of innovation that’s going to come in the way people listen to music, watch videos, etc. I’ll bet our ads will be less edgy. But my 85-year-old uncle probably will never own an iPod, and I hope we’ll get him to own a Zune.”
I hope Steve’s uncle likes his Zune.
“‘Our PC partners knew in advance we were announcing something today in this space,’ Ballmer said.
So how did they feel about it? ‘No comment.'”
As my 9-year-old would say, “Ooh, awkward.”