iPhone Political Tech

Steve Ballmer on iPhone

Developers, developers, developers.
Developers, developers, developers.

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 percent or 70 percent or 80 percent of them, than I would to have 2 percent or 3 percent, which is what Apple might get.

—Steve Ballmer April 2007

Emphasis above is mine.

Steve Ballmer saw 1.3-billion phones as the Mother Lode of the cellular industry. A space carved up by the First Triumvirate of the cellular business; Retailers, Manufacturers, and the Telcos, all working in concert to stifle innovation, plateau operating costs, and recycle the handset market using feature creep while heavily subsidizing these phones using the Triumvirate’s slush fund.

Steve Ballmer wants a piece of that action.

Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates invented that paradigm in 1995 when they declared the birth of the Personal Computer. Box builders and Retailers came first, corporations second, and the consumer would come last, in the pecking order of services and satisfaction.

Now, as was with the Win95 desktop, Steve Ballmer wanted Windows CE to reach 100-percent of the cellular market. He might have succeeded had Microsoft not stumbled in the desktop arena in 2007, with Windows Vista.

Struggling with damage control, Windows CE languished and when has Ballmer’s forays into hardware ever paid off? He envisioned Windows CE running a billion phones. If those phones were Microsoft-branded so much the better. Microsoft doesn’t know jack about phones.

Steve Ballmer said he would have been happy with 80-percent of the market, so what the hell happened? Why are they ebbing along with a measly share of the cellular market?

Perhaps Ballmer was too ambitious, like Longhorn all over again? Promise much and deliver good enough.

Steve Jobs said he’d be happy with 10-percent of that same cellular market and it took less than a year for a hardware-centric Apple to create its own mobile platform.

Apple grew the platform by innovating with hardware operating under its own software. Each iPhone iteration improved the consumer experience by an order of magnitude, until Apple owned the greater platform. Apple doesn’t use market-share metrics; Apple is its own vertical market with all facets of the retail experience.

Steve Ballmer tried for the last 15-years to achieve 80%.  Some think Microsoft was attempting to buy their way to the front of the line by purchasing Nokia, who were themselves, caught off guard by the smartphone.

Now it’s an ambitious Microsoft looking to Apple’s market in the very manner they looked at the cellular market in April 2007, wondering how they can own 80-percent. Office was a no brainer, but in the scope of Apple’s platform, Microsoft is going to have to do so much more.

Perhaps we could get Halo back to its original platform?

I have a tip for ya’ though, don’t screw it up. Empower the consumer and not the oligarchies of business, lest you be taken from pillar to post in Apple’s market. When you’re walking on eggs, don’t jump.



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