Sometimes the next big thing isn’t easy to spot—even when its the iPhone, which celebrated its 10th anniversary today.
Steve Ballmer, founder of Microsoft, infamously said that Apple’s new invention was a waste of money.
“Five hundred dollars? Fully subsidized? With a plan? I said that is the most expensive phone in the world,” Ballmer reportedly said of the first iPhone.
“And it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard. Which makes it not a very good email machine.”
Here are a few of our favorite times bosses laughed in the face of disruption, courtesy of research firm CB Insights. We’re publishing them here with permission.
Some of the predictions are old enough that they’re obviously wrong — people dismissed personal computers and streaming video. And some of those making the predictions ran companies that are now defunct because they missed the boat. With others, the jury is still out as to how off base the dismissal was.
You can see the full list of 33 quotes on CB Insights blog:
Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes on streaming video
“Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition,” Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes told the Motley Fool in 2008. “It’s more Wal-Mart and Apple.”
His video-rental chain filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Today Netflix is worth $61.93 billion.
Nintendo’s North American president on mobile games
These mobile games are “candidly disposable from a consumer standpoint,” said Nintendo North America president Reggie Fils-Aime in 2011.
Maybe 65 million monthly active Pokemon Go players changed his mind.
IBM’s president on computers
“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers,” said Thomas Watson, president of IBM, in 1943.
Needless to say, a few more than that have been sold since then.