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Steve Ballmer's reaction to the iPhone's launch in 2007 shows never underestimate competition

He underestimated the iPhone's success and years later, people are still laughing at his words and learning to always take competition seriously.

Steve Ballmer's reaction to the iPhone's launch in 2007 shows never underestimate competition
Cover Image Source: Steve Ballmer, Founder, USA Facts and Former C.E.O., Microsoft speaks onstage during the 2018 New York Times Dealbook on November 1, 2018 (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)

There is one thing about the internet if someone has commented on something and it turns out to be wrong, it comes back to bite the person years later. In an interview in 2007, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer opened up about his thoughts on the iPhone launched that year and that one interview keeps re-surfacing on the internet even today. It is also proof of the fact that one should not underestimate their competitors.

Image Source: Former Microsoft CEO & LA Clippers Owner Steve Ballmer Visits
Image Source: Former Microsoft CEO & LA Clippers Owner Steve Ballmer Visits "Your World With Neil Cavuto" (Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

The video was recently posted on X by @fasc1nate, where Ballme was asked, "What was your reaction when you saw that?" He responds, "$500 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. Now, it may sell very well or not. We've got great Windows mobile devices right now we're selling millions and millions and millions of phones a year. Apple is selling 0 phones a year. In 6 months, they'll have the most expensive phone by far ever in the marketplace. You know let's see what the expression is. Let's see how the competition goes."

The video went viral, garnering over 761k views on the platform. People had a laugh listening to his thoughts on the iPhone. @BretStrizak commented, "In 2007, everybody was accustomed to the small physical keyboards on Blackberry devices for several years. Virtual keyboards turned out to be better for phones." @MandyLSimard wrote, "He must be eating his words today." @preachimpo.btc shared, "Look how it turned out." @JohannBravo999 said, "Never underestimate the cool factor."


When asked what he would have done differently in an interview with Bloomberg, Ballmer spoke about his quote about the iPhone that he made. "I wish I would have thought of subsidizing phones through operators. You know, people would like to quote at this point the quote where I said the iPhone would never sell it is because the price of the iPhone $700 was too high and this business model innovation of the iPhone to get it built into the iPhone bill. We should have been in the hardware business sooner and we were still suffering what I call some of the effects of our Vista release of Windows, which sucked up a huge amount of resources for a much longer period than it should have because we stumbled over it. When you have a lot of your best engineers sort of in a sense being non-productive for a while it takes a toll."



Speaking about Ballmer's comments on the iPhone, Tony Fadell, one of the early members of the iPhone development team and founder of smart home company Nest, said in an interview with BBC that everyone on the iPhone team "laughed at him." He said they also chuckled at Blackberry, the company at the time had been selling popular smartphones. "We also laughed at Blackberry," he said. "Whenever I create a new product, and I learned this with Steve [Jobs], if the incumbents laugh at you and the press laugh at you, you go, 'we've hit a nerve,'" per Fortune.


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