Kara Swisher

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I Love You, Man: Gates Lashes Himself to Ballmer Over Microsoft’s Mobile “Mistake” (Video)

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In a wide-ranging interview with Charlie Rose on “CBS This Morning,” Microsoft Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates made a little news — or a lot of it, if you are a reader of internal tea leaves at the software giant — in noting that the company’s early mobile strategy was “clearly a mistake.”

But, perhaps more interestingly, when asked about the meh performance of Steve Ballmer, who replaced Gates as CEO some years ago, the typically non-diplomatic tech legend declined to throw his longtime confidant over the side.

Instead, he strapped himself to Ballmer, in an orgy of “he-and-I” band-of-brothers statements that clearly linked the duo, even though Rose’s question was specifically about how Ballmer was doing.

“He and I are two of the most self-critical people you can imagine,” said Gates, noting a lot of “amazing things” such as Surface and Xbox in the Ballmer regime. “Is it enough? No, he and I are not satisfied that in terms of breakthrough things that we’re doing everything possible.”

Gates did note the obvious in addressing the slowness of Microsoft in the mobile market over the last several years, which has allowed rivals like Apple and Google to dominate the key sector.

“There’s a lot of things like cellphones where we didn’t get out in the lead early,” said Gates. “We didn’t miss cellphones, but the way that we went about it didn’t allow us to get the leadership.”

No, it did not, but Gates is not blaming Ballmer for it, it seems.

Watch for yourself:


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik