After spotting some stray tweets about the incident, Todd Bishop of TechFlash dug up the tale: At yesterday's annual Microsoft meeting at Safeco Field, Ballmer was making his entrance when a 'Softie tried to snap his picture with an iPhone. Bad idea!
Ballmer grabbed the Apple device from the employee and made some funny remarks as everyone booed. Then he put it on the ground and pretended to stomp on it, before walking away... during his presentation on stage, Ballmer referred to the episode again, teasing the person and making it clear that he hadn't forgotten what happened.
Ballmer, at heart a sales guy, perhaps does not cultivate the degree of self-awareness necessary to see the parallels between his relentless — if, in this case, somewhat lighthearted — demonization of his competitors within Microsoft and the tactics of Big Brother from 1984. He is, in short, acting like the very guy Apple has chosen as its ideal foil. But if his Two Minutes Hate at Safeco Field was a clumsy PR move, it was hardly out of character; in fact, as the viral mash-up above shows, there is something about large company functions that seems accentuate the man's insanity.
His employees, at least, are sympathetic...
...sometimes to a fault!