When Steve Ballmer laughed at the first iPhone

When the iPhone debuted eight years ago, not everyone thought it was going to be a success.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laughs in front of an image of actor Matt Damon during the last opening Microsoft keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show opening in Las Vegas January 9, 2012. Microsoft has announced they will no longer attend CES after this year. Credit: REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Eight years ago this week, the iPhone went on sale for the first time and forever changed the tech landscape. In one fell swoop, Apple wrestled control away from the carriers and put users at the forefront of the smartphone experience. What was once a product designed only for business executives instantly became a device positioned and marketed for consumers.

When Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPhone about eight and a half years ago, he wasn't lying when he said that it was a leapfrog product that was bout five years ahead of the competition. Rivals who saw the future that the iPhone promised would go on to see success, with Android being the obvious example. In contrast, rivals who laughed off the iPhone, companies like Microsoft and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, paid dearly for their willful ignorance. Today, both companies remain engaged in an endless game of catch-up as they desperately try to remain somewhat relevant in the mobile space.

In light of that, today is as good a day as ever to look back at the now infamous clip of then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laughing off the threat posed by the iPhone.

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