If Steve Ballmer ran Apple

“Imagine Steve Ballmer was right now the CEO of Apple, with the same set of products and opportunities. Suspend disbelief about cultural clashes, or organizational structure,” Ben Thompson writes for Stratechery. “Presume Ballmer could set the strategy, and that Apple would execute it accordingly. In this scenario Apple would make more money in the next five years than they will under Tim Cook.”

“And yet, under Ballmer, everyone at Apple would be working so hard, and be making so much money, both for themselves and for Apple’s shareholders, that they would ensure that Apple never again reinvents consumer computing,” Thompson writes. “See, if Steve Ballmer were the CEO, Apple would make more money, but they would slowly but surely become irrelevant. Just like Microsoft.”

Tones more in the full article – highly recommended – here.

[Attribution: Fortune. Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Edward W.,” “Uncle Al,” and “JES42” for the heads up.]


  1. This headline sounded like the opening line of a stand-up comedy schtick. Like “If Jim Carrey were the President of the US”, or “If Will Ferrell were the Pope”…

      1. I actually laughed when I read it. It is one of those parallel-universe, “what if?” scenarios that are as unlikely as they are absurd, which made it hilarious to me.

        I didn’t bother with the article, realising that the story isn’t humorous, but a serious “what if?” hypothesis, which makes it rather uninteresting.

  2. If you accept this premise (and it is an incredibly long stretch), then it is possible that someone could squeeze Apple’s existing products lines to make more money in the short term. However, by killing innovation and focusing on the dollar over the user, the long term value of Apple would tank (just like Microsoft since 2000).

    Getting back to the article, I cannot imagine Ballmer in charge of Apple. And I don’t believe that he could scrounge more value out of anything.

    1. This actually happened already… Is no one here old enough to remember? 🙂

      Steve Jobs was pushed out of Apple. Fully under control of John Sculley, Apple “squeezed” as much money as possible out of what it already had, and for a few years, it was all good. But the people who LED Apple cared more about making money, and less about innovation.

      Ten years later (in the late 1990’s), Apple was desperately trying things like licensing the Mac OS and producing countless beige variations of the Mac (with names like Centris and Performa followed by a number), instead of creating the NEXT big thing.

      1. Dude, lots of people died in that video — literal flesh and blood human beings — they were burned alive in a horrible, terrible tragedy…

        Basic human decency would suggest that such footage be treated with modesty and reverence, not joking references like yours. IMHO

  3. I’m not sure he would be successful at marketing Apple and drive sales and profits. With Windows and Office he was in a win-win situation. Every business uses them and it is the de facto standard for many users. Hard to fail in that situation.
    M$ may have been smart to get to that position by building the right tools. By in reality it took them till 1995 to get Windows right and that;s when their stock took off.
    Note M$ is up 40 fold since 1987 and Apple is up 400 fold since 1981.

  4. Apple would be 1/4 or less of its current value, look what happened when Apple missed on maps. Apple would be like our lady of perpetual beta, would never have made headway in China and manufacturing would be farmed out to the likes of Dell in India. Quality would have dropped, legacy software would have been hoarded. You would see iPhones and iPods with SCSI interfaces. They would have been as big as a Motorola brick cellphone, there would be no Apple TV but an over priced power hungry Video game would be the living room center piece. There would be no miniaturization because there would be no investment in chip foundries and Blackberries would rule the roost. No OSX transition and phones would be running buggy versions with system 8.

  5. Absolutely true. He would either…

    1. Make iOS open source
    2. Allow Android to come preinstalled on all iPhones.

    Those are two “hailmary” scenarios.

    Total global domination while at the very same time destroying the foundation of what Apple was built upon.

    That would be the day that Apple died.

  6. Mac OS X Basic Home Edition G ( Children 5 and under ), you can upgrade to Mac OS Basic Home Edition S Full ( Thats for Stupid – yes your stupid enough to think you have to buy 10 editions of the same POS )

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