Watch: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laughs at iPhone
Apple iPhone turns 15 today. Apple-co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled iPhone on June 29 2007. iPhone launched in an era ruled by Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, Nokia and other phones powered by Windows Phone OS. Motorola and HTC were other prominent players. From the looks of it, Apple iPhone didnt appear to be a threat to the smartphone industry leaders then. And there were lot of naysayers — Microsoft then-CEO Steve Ballmer being the most prominent one.
Ballmer famously dissed the iPhone when was asked what he thought of the device during a press conference. He laughed at the price tag and the fact that the phone didnt have a keyboard and so had no appeal for business users. Microsoft CEO said that Apple was making a big mistake on the device it called the iPhone. “500 dollars? Fully subsidized? With a plan? I said that is the most expensive phone in the world. And it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard. Which makes it not a very good email machine. We have our strategy. We are very happy with Windows Phone devices in the market today. You can get Motorola Q series device for $99. It is a very capable machine, can do music, internet and more.”
Asked about the traction that Apple had been getting since launch Ballmer added, “Right now, we’re selling millions and millions and millions of phones a year. Apple is selling zero phones a year. In six months, they’ll have the most expensive phone by far ever in the marketplace,” said Ballmer.
Ballmer later admitted he was wrong about the iPhone
In an interview to Bloomberg nine years later, Ballmer admitted his mistake. He said, “I wish I had thought of the model of subsidizing phones through the operators. People like to point to this quote where I said the iPhones will never sell. Well the price of $600 or $700 was too high and it was business model innovation by Apple to get it essentially built into the monthly cell phone bill.”
Ballmer want on to admit that it was a mistake on Microsoft’s part not to make handsets and tablets sooner. “I would have moved into the hardware business faster and recognized that what we had in the PC, where there was a separation of chips, systems, and software, wasn’t largely going to reproduce itself in the mobile world,” he said.