Yes, you know that you really hit a nerve when some top-level manager at a competing company dismisses your product as a nonstarter. And one of the absolute greatest leading indicators of success is when an executive mentions your impending failure during a quarterly results call. You should be so lucky to get that. (My advice is to humble it out on both ends.)
Here is a limited selection of some entertaining opinions, past and present. There are more, but let's start with the obvious. I'll call this list the top-ten failed failure forecasts. (Give it time.)
- Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, 2007: The iPhone has “no chance” of gaining significant market share.
- Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, 2011: You need to be a “computer scientist” to use an Android smartphone. (Android now has around 70% platform share, Windows Phone 3%.)
- Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, 2008: Apple's iPhone is a “niche” product.
- Nokia Executive Vice President Anssi Vanjoki, 2009: The iPhone has a “toy camera.”
- Apple's Tim Cook, Jan 2011: “We're not that worried about” Android tablets. (Apple had around 80% market share of tablets at the time.)
- Apple's Tim Cook: We're not worried about Amazon's Kindle.
- Apple's Phil Schiller, March 2013: “...Samsung Galaxy S4 is being rumored to ship with an OS that is nearly a year old. Customers will have to wait to get an update.” Android is fragmented, unsafe, et cetera, et cetera.
- HTC Chief Marketing Officer, Benjamin Ho, March 2013: Samsung's Galaxy S 4 “is more of the same.” (Early indicators show that S 4 sales are much stronger than the S III, which in itself was one of the best-selling smartphones ever.)
- BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins, March 2013: Apple's iPhone/iOS is “five years out of date.”
- And finally, here is some good news for Google's Chrome OS, criticism from Ballmer:
So, how silly will Mr. Ballmer's opinion look in five years from now?