During a dinner Thursday at the Churchill Club in Silicon Valley when “asked about smartphones, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Nokia, Research in Motion and Apple will all lose out as the market expands over the next five years, because they design their own proprietary hardware and tie it closely to their software,” James Niccolai reports for IDG News Service.

“Nokia leads the smartphone market today with about a 30 percent share, he said. ‘If you want to reach more than that, you have to separate the hardware and software in the platform,’ he said,” Niccolai reports.

MacDailyNews Take: Like with PlaysForSure vs. iPod+iTunes?

“In other words, he thinks the same strategy that helped Microsoft become the leader on the desktop — licensing its OS for use by other hardware makers — will let it win out on smartphones. Long term, he said, the battle will be between the Symbian OS (which is now open source), mobile versions of Linux and Windows Mobile,” Niccolai reports.

MacDailyNews Take: What allowed Microsoft to take the PC market was the absence of Steve Jobs at Apple combined with the one-time luxury of a poorly written contract signed by an unprepared sugared water salesbozo which allowed them to poorly rip-off Apple’s Mac ad infinitum. Microsoft will not have the same luxury this time. Apple has over 200 iPhone-related patents that Steve Jobs has publicly-stated Apple plans to vigorously defend.

We’ve been pushing the state-of-the-art in every facet of design… We’ve been innovating like crazy for the last few years on this and we’ve filed for over 200 patents for all of the inventions in iPhone. And we intend to protect them. – Steve Jobs, January 9, 2007

Niccolai continues, “Apple won’t boost its share of the personal computer market or become a threat in the enterprise for similar reasons, according to Ballmer — because it won’t license its software to others. ‘Apple’s a good company, I won’t take anything away from them, but they have a certain kind of strategy. They believe in putting the hardware and software together, they don’t believe in letting other people make it.’

MacDailyNews Take: And therefore, it actually works for the users instead of against. Which is why Microsoft and Ballmer dumped PlayForSure to try to, once again, copy Apple by “putting the hardware and software together,” with the Zune. Related: Microsoft tries to match Apple’s vertical approach – October 11, 2006. And Apple is already significantly boosting its share of the personal computer market, dummy.

Niccolai continues, reporting that Ballmer also said, “I’m not saying there isn’t a threat’ from Apple, he said. But if Microsoft and its PC partners ‘do our jobs right, there’s really no reason Apple should get any footprint in the enterprise.”

Full article here.

Such a fundamental lack of understanding of major markets in which his company competes should be appalling to not only shareholders, but… uh, we mean: May Ballmer remain Microsoft’s CEO for as long as it takes!