Jason Pontin of MIT’s Technology Review has a good interview with Steve Ballmer, revealing just how out-of-touch he is. Consider his responses to this straightforward series of questions (Pontin’s questions are italicized):
I understand Google’s vision for the future of computing. I know what Apple stands for. I used to understand what Microsoft stood for. I no longer know. What’s your vision for the company?
This question quintessentially is a question of altitude. So, in this context tell me what Google and Apple stand for, and I’ll give you the equivalent.
Google stands for indexing the world’s information in a useful fashion. That’s their claim to planetary utility. Steve Jobs said Apple made insanely great devices for consumers. That altitude.
At that level of altitude, I’ll give you the slogan, and then I’ll sort of put just a little meat on it. We empower people and businesses to realize their potential. And to expand, I would simply say we’re about defining the future of productivity, entertainment, and communication. In the new world, software is going to have to come in kind of an integrated form — or at least a well-designed form that includes cloud services and devices.
I didn’t understand any of that. I don’t think I’m stupid; I just think Steve Ballmer doesn’t understand what consumers want because he’s been in a board room for too many years. He appears to think of moms and dads like CEOs of a household. And Ballmer talking about design is laughable.