Part of Steve Jobs’ genius was his ability to find just the right words to explain why whatever Apple product he was unveiling was so “insanely great” you had to rush out and buy it at that very moment.
Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer never had that gift, but his final interview before stepping down contains a few really telling quotes about why things turned out the way they did — with Apple being the innovative market leader, and Microsoft being… well, Microsoft.
Speaking to long-time Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley, Ballmer failed to mention revolutionary products like the iPhone and iPad (or Android for that matter) which have eclipsed Microsoft’s efforts in their success, and instead focused on what he knows best: money. Only even then he didn’t sound as convincing as he should.
“In the last five years, probably Apple has made more money than we have. But in the last 13 years, I bet we’ve made more money than almost anybody on the planet. And that, frankly, is a great source of pride to me.”
It’s no secret that Ballmer’s never been a product-motivated person — but dwelling on Microsoft’s past successes, while apparently failing to realize that Apple’s current success is in part because it places importance on long-term product lines over short-term financial gains, says a whole lot Ballmer probably didn’t mean it to.
A Steve Jobs quote highlighted by Business Insider pretty much sums it up:
“I have my own theory about why decline happens at companies like IBM or Microsoft. The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The company starts valuing the great salesmen, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers. So the salespeople end up running the company. John Akers at IBM was a smart, eloquent, fantastic salesperson, but he didn’t know anything about product. The same thing happened at Xerox. When the sales guys run the company, the product guys don’t matter so much, and a lot of them just turn off. It happened at Apple when Sculley came in, which was my fault, and it happened when Ballmer took over at Microsoft. Apple was lucky and it rebounded, but I don’t think anything will change at Microsoft as long as Ballmer is running it.”
Then again Steve Jobs was the guy who thought that crazy thing called an iPhone would work out. Guess Ballmer got the last laugh there. Oh, wait…Related