In the pantheon of controversial Microsoft comments CEO Steve Ballmer's quote this week about the Apple iPod: "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It's a $500 subsidized item," ranks right up there. But Between Ballmer and Chairman Bill Gates that comment would be hard pressed to crack the Top 15 all-time most controversial or even colorful things the two of them have uttered in the past oh, 20 years or so. These are my favorite quotes, there are many like them but these are mine: Who could forget: 1. Ballmer lambasting technology stock valuations, including those of his own company: "There is such an overvaluation of technology stocks that it is absurd. I would include our stock in that category. It is bad for the long-term worth of the economy." 2. Ballmer on those pesky iPods and Google. "My children--in many dimensions they're as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I've got my kids brainwashed: You don't use Google, and you don't use an iPod."
3. More on Google of course, by Ballmer: "Google's not a real company. It's a house of cards. " 4. Ballmer on usefulness of blogs: "I'm not sure blogs are necessarily the best place to get a pulse on anything. People want to blog for a variety of reasons, and that may or may not be representative. " 5. Ballmer on Microsoft's standing in the marketplace: "We don't have a monopoly. We have market share. There's a difference. " 6. Ballmer on Linux's uh, health problems: "Linux is not in the public domain. Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches. That's the way that the license works." 7. Ballmer on potential Linux patent problems: Microsoft wants to "get the appropriate economic return for our shareholders from our innovation," suggesting that users and vendors of other versions of Linux could be at risk of patent infringement lawsuits. Ballmer's comments came after Microsoft and Novell signed a business and technology partnership that included an agreement not to assert patent and intellectual property rights.
Chairman Gates has his own litany of controversial comments. I give you: 1. Gates on his place in the universe: "Hey, I never told anyone to buy my stock! Besides, no one is less happy than I am with the performance of Microsoft stock! I've lost tens of billions of dollars this year-if you check, you'll see that that's more than most people make in a lifetime!" 2. Gates on Microsoft's anti-trust case: "This anti-trust thing will blow over." 3. Gates on, the distributed nature of intelligence at his company( I think): "At Microsoft there are lots of brilliant ideas but the image is that they all come from the top - I'm afraid that's not quite right." 4. Gates on the number of H-1B visas that should be permitted in the US over the current 65,000 currently allowed: "300,000 would be a fantastic improvement." 5. Gates, again reasserting his place in the world: I have 100 billion dollars... You realize I could spend 3 million dollars a day, every day, for the next 100 years? And that's if I don't make another dime. Tell you what-I'll buy your right arm for a million dollars. I give you a million bucks, and I get to sever your arm right here. 6. Gates getting one right perhaps: "If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1000 MPG. " 7. Gates on his rush for support Digital Rights management: "Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana." 8. Gates on his customers: "Let's face it, the average computer user has the brain of a Spider Monkey." Now I am certain all of you have your favorites, please by all means, share them with the rest of us.