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Ballmer Era: What Will We Remember?

When Gates left, we all probably expected a high-energy, high-pitched Ballmer would maintain the financial and innovation-oriented momentum going forward. Redmond has been holding its own amid the crisis, but overall, it's been lagging and just recently has been lapped by Apple, at least in regard to market cap, and perhaps Apple has always had the upper hand in innovation all along. Some folks are now contemplating what it would take to bring Gates back to right the listing ship.

Nearly a decade after Gates officially announced his departure (it'll be 10 years come July), we can look back at Bill's legacy (crushing IBM, Windows on every desktop, monopolistic practices challenged in court, software genius on a trampoline, etc.) but who would have predicted what his future held? And that future has been nothing short of amazing, what with his mega-philanthropy. He's not one to spend his wealth whimsically on megayachts or Cold-War era fighter jets (well, not that we know of).

Which brings me back to Ballmer. I don't have the goods on his announcing his retirement any time soon, but I thought it'd be a fun mental exercise to predict in 10 years what we'll remember about Ballmer, who's sure to give up the reins in the next 6 or 7 years (he'll be in his 60's soon enough).

Will we remember him for the Vista debacle (whether or not it was his fault)? The craziness expressed in viral videos or his rumored chair-throwing incident? How about his dominance of the smartphone segment? (He has a few years to work on this yet...) Will he become a former IT exec/now-active NBA owner, a la Mark Cuban? I'm all ears here for predictions of his future, not just legacies.

Posted by Michael Domingo on 06/08/2010 at 11:59 AM

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