Ballmer Bids Farewell to Wall Street, Regrets Missing Mobile Phone Opportunity

As he's done every year since taking over for Bill Gates as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Microsoft back in 2000, Steve Ballmer met with investors and analysts for an annual meeting. Having announced his impending retirement last month, this would be the last of those meetings he would conduct, offering a rare opportunity to offer up candid insight and reflect a little bit on his career.

Ballmer took advantage of the opportunity and shared the one thing he'd like to have a second shot at, if you he could do it all over again.

"If there's one thing I regret, there was a period in the early 2000s when we were so focused on what we had to do around Windows that we weren't able to redeploy talent to the new device form factor called the phone," Ballmer said.

Steve Ballmer

Microsoft's failure to recognize early on the transition to mobile hurt the company and put it in a position today of playing catch-up with the competition, namely Apple (iOS) and Google (Android). The misstep also ultimately led to a major reorganization within Microsoft, one which puts the Redmond company in position to focus on mobile products and unified services

Though Microsoft has fallen behind in mobile, Ballmer is optimistic of the "economic upside" that exists.

"In the long run, we are almost uniquely poised to seize the opportunity," Ballmer said during the meeting. "Today I'm speaking as an investor. You all own Microsoft stock, cheer for it, for God's sake!"