Microsoft’s rage against the iPhone continues, this time at the highest corporate levels.
During yesterday’s company meeting at Seattle’s Safeco field, CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly snatched an employee’s iPhone and pretended to stomp on it in front of the entire crowd.
As the story goes, it happened when Ballmer was making his big entrance — slapping hands, running around, and generally whooping things up, as is his tradition at these events. That was when he spotted someone at field level, allegedly a member of the Windows group, using an iPhone to take his picture.
Ballmer grabbed the Apple device from the employee and made some funny remarks as everyone booed. Then he put it on the ground and pretended to stomp on it, before walking away.
The scene was visible on the big screen, so even people in the upper deck could see what was happening. Later, during his presentation on stage, Ballmer referred to the episode again, teasing the person and making it clear that he hadn’t forgotten what happened.
This is amusing, and makes us want to have a beer with Steve Ballmer more than ever.
But it’s also the wrong message.
Microsoft is not just an operating system company — it’s a software company. It already writes apps for the iPhone, targets ads to the iPhone, and given the iPhone’s large user base of people who actually use their phones, it should continue to do so.
Microsoft should seek to write the best apps in its category for the iPhone, just as it seeks to for Windows Mobile, Windows, and the Mac. Where is the Bing app that should make my MobileSafari Google search bar obsolete?
And if you’re going to take the “employees should eat their own [Windows Mobile] dog food” angle, the bigger problem is that this is Microsoft’s own doing.
The company has been fumbling with mobile operating systems for more than 10 years, and has consistently been terrible. Microsoft could have killed Palm, RIM, and the iPhone’s chances years ago if it had a great product. (And Microsoft employees wouldn’t be buying iPhones today if Windows Mobile weren’t so bad.)
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