Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer made his CES keynote address debut, replacing both the retiring Bill Gates and the ailing Steve Jobs, and — as part of a pre-appearance interview — reversed his earlier opinion of the iPhone.
Back in '07, when the iPhone appeared, Ballmer publicly dismissed it as "the most expensive phone in the world…with no chance of gaining significant market share." Then the price dropped, users flocked to the iPhone in droves — and Ballmer is now singing a different tune, crediting the iPhone and BlackBerry as having ‚Äúclear market momentum‚Äù in the smartphone
market — one of the only consumer technology businesses that is set to
resist the economic downturn this year.
At the same time — perhaps mindful that Microsoft's hardware ventures have yet to produce anything more substantial than mice — Ballmer all but admitted that a Microsoft "Zune Phone" wouldn't be happening, and the Zune itself probably isn't long for this world, although the possibility exists for planting the software and online service linked to the player in other devices.
Additionally, Microsoft's recent partnering with both Dell and Verizon Wireless to provide their search-engine technology is another jab at Google, as was Ballmer's dismissal of Google‚Äôs venture into smartphones.
[Via The Financial Times]