Ballmer famously said about the iPhone in 2007, "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share". "Bill didn't know how to work for anybody, and I didn't know how to manage Bill". In a sense I felt like, okay, we are not partners anymore, I have to take accountability. Ballmer's time at the company certainly had lows and highs, but it looks like his decision to push the Surface forward is turning out to be one of his biggest contributions to the company. Azure, Bing, and Office 365 were all projects that Microsoft worked on after the founder moved onto newer goals.
Had he done things differently, he would have dove in sooner.
There were some hints of a somewhat strained relationship between him and Gates, however.
"We've kinda drifted apart". He's got his life and I sort of have mine. I have mine. Microsoft was the thing that bound us. "And then we got to be super-good friends".
"We went and saw "Singin" in the Rain" and "A Clockwork Orange, ' which are only connected by the use of a common song", Gates once said. After Microsoft bought Nokia Oyj's handset unit for $9.5 billion, at Ballmer's request, the software giant was forced to write down nearly the entire value of the acquisition, Bloomberg reported. "And I just think toward the end that was a bit more hard than not, particularly with the strategic direction change". Even though the profits of Microsoft were rising, the board of directors knew stock prices weren't going anywhere. "I think you had kind of a combustible situation". What about the early days of the Surface, or the Lumia phones for that matter.
Ballmer also gave more details on strategic disagreements for the direction of Microsoft.
"There was a fundamental disagreement about how important it was to be in the hardware business", says Ballmer. "Things came to a climax around what to do with the phone business".
In a Bloomberg interview Steve Ballmer said he still did not feel Microsoft's current strategy of relying on 3rd party OEMs was viable, saying Microsoft's usual strategy of "a separation of chips, systems and software, wasn't largely gonna reproduce itself in the mobile world". The company is firmly entrenched in the cloud business, has deftly transitioned its software products to a subscription model for its most profitable customers, invested heavily in deep learning and advanced AI technologies, and is finally seeing some of the fruits of its investment into the Surface family of first-party hardware. "People like to point to this quote where I said iPhones will never sell, it was because the price of $700 was too high".