With disastrous initial reports coming in from the field regarding Microsoft's new Windows Phone (customers complaining that it just does not work, hackers immediately stealing account information and making hundreds of dollars worth of international calls using stolen information, etc.) Steve Ballmer was caught in a candid moment, away from his handlers, and he discussed his next idea with us.
"Our attorneys are filing patents on the wheel." The Microsoft CEO said. "We've always been a company that just steals product ideas from others. From the early days, stealing from Apple, copying the PlayStation, hardware, software, right up this latest attempt to muscle in on the hand-held telephone market, or smart-phone, whatever it is they call those things, that's what we do.
I guess the problem is the stuff we make just sucks." Ballmer continued thoughtfully. "You'd think that since we just copy the work of others, our products would be just as good, maybe even better. But somehow we just can't get it right. Even after all these years, all those billions of dollars, we still can't put together an operating system that doesn't need to be constantly patched. It's been getting a little depressing"
We sensed that the old 'Silicon Valley Pirate' was about to drift off on a depressing tangent, so we re-focused his attention on this new development. How in the world can you patent the wheel we asked?
"Well" he said, "I have to admit it wasn't all my idea. I can't even think of what would be good to steal. So I convinced Bill to have lunch with me, for old-times sake.
He doesn't like to talk to me, but I told him I had some ideas to improve public education that his pal Oprah would like. He was pretty pissed off when we got to lunch and he realized I had lied to him again. But when I told him how bad our latest offerings were, how Bing and the new phone were flying like a lead balloon, he agreed to help.
'Steve' he said. You gotta get back to the basics. You need to get all those attorneys on your staff that have been fighting anti-trust and market monopoly issues, and get them to seize the legal rights to something really basic, that everyone uses every day, something even you can't screw up.'
I didn't get it, so I begged him to give me some examples before he walked out on me.
'Look' the scrawny little geek said 'I've got better things to do. I don't know, get a patent on oxygen, or fire, anything that everyone uses every day, make them pay a monthly fee for the rights to breath or light a match.'
As he got into his Limo and rolled away, I finally got it. The wheel! Him limo was rolling away on wheels! Some prehistoric genius had invented that, and that was my next target.
Right away I told our engineers to start working on reverse engineering the wheel, and soon the 'Windows Wheel' will hit the market.
I'm thinking we can improve on it by making it slightly oval in shape instead of perfectly round, and maybe we can include a square model in our product line...I can't wait, we're going to get the old mojo back in no-time with this one!"