Back in 2007, before the launch of the iPhone, Steve Balmer predicted that Apple had "no chance" of gaining more than 2% or 3% market share. He also predicted Windows Mobile getting to "60%, 70%, or 80%". At that point, Microsoft's two mobile platforms had a total of in the ballpark of a 20% market share and was on a gradual incline.
By February 2008, the iPhone had already overtaken Windows Mobile in terms of Smart Phone market share. That's not even a year later.
This past July, the iPhone overtook Nokia in terms of Smart Phone market share. Although Nokia is still the dominant manufacturer when you look at all phones, that's still impressive. Passing Nokia makes Apple the overall worldwide leader in smartphones! Even more impressive? Those numbers are from Q1, so they don't take into account the between one and two million iPhone 3Gs units that were sold last month. (Note - these numbers are not installed base, they are based on "mobile ad traffic". RIM may still have a larger installed base, but any way you cut it, these numbers are still impressive).
Being a technology pundit is notoriously hard, and I typically cut people slack when they attempt to predict the future, especially when they have an obvious bias such as Steve Balmer has. I mean, we have to expect people to believe in their own products. Of course.
But, here's the thing… Balmer has continuously made bad predictions that directly impact the products that his company offers. Under his watch, they've shipped horrible, horrible products, lost market share in most areas where they compete, failed to establish footholds in any new markets, and are basically slowly bleeding money out of their rectum. They are squandering an almost unsquanderable lead.
Why does this guy still get any respect? I mean, how often does he have to be completely wrong about his job before Microsoft's Board of Trustees gets rid of him and puts in somebody competent? How long can one ship be steered in the totally wrong direction before somebody on-board asks where the hell they're going and if they really should keep listening to their batshit-insane captain?
The HMS Microsoft needs a mutiny. Of course, their Fletcher Christian was probably an orange-badger who got let go once he finished coding to spec.
Note: My bad! I forgot about the Xbox. That shipped under Balmer's watch, makes money, and that team does some good work. Microsoft did, indeed, establish a foothold in the console space and gained considerable market share under Balmer's watch, so I overstated the case there a tad, but I think the overall point is still valid.