Steve Ballmer: You Have to Be a Computer Scientist to Use Android


Oh, boy – nothing like a little Wednesday morning drama. Microsoft CEO once again made statements regarding Android that make him look more foolish than he knows. Speaking at a Web 2.0 conference in the UK, Ballmer likened knowledge of using Android to knowledge of rocket science, stating “you don’t need to be a computer scientist to use a Windows phone and you do to use and Android phone…It is hard for me to be excited about the Android phones.”

If using an Android phone is more difficult than learning computer science, well, I’m just going to be honest and say that you must be really stupid. I mean, of course, this is Steve Ballmer – long-time Android hater – but I can’t imagine he really isn’t telling the truth on his own account. And besides, being able to show personality and individuality is just one of the many benefits of using a phone that’s apparently so hard to use that you’ll spend a lifetime learning. Have fun with your tiles, child.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Rocket Science != Computer Science

    1. Opposite end of the spectrum. =p

      1. The moms picking up their kids from school whilst clutching their iphone could attest to that… well, if they could raise their eyes from their facebook status.

    2. That merely a child’s toy, grown-ups don’t care about it.

  2. Ha funny android is making microsoft a bunch of money and their windows phones that are so easy to use aren’t making them squat.

  3. he just symbolize everything that’s wrong with MS

  4. Why do people insist on saying “rocket science”? It isn’t that difficult, comparatively speaking. It isn’t theoretical particle physics, or trying to unite relativistic quantum field theories with general relativity. I guess Steve Ballmer isn’t very bright.
    EDIT: Yes, I have had more than a few aeronautical and aerospace engineering courses over the course of my academic career, so I *do* know what I’m talking about.
    EDIT2: Is he giving a thumbs-up with that goofy look because he successfully read a paragraph from that monitor? Microsoft is really slipping….

    1. Its a figure of speech Sheldon, probably from the 50’s when rocket science was hard. And no we can’t switch it to “Its not theoretical particle physics” because that sounds stupid. Also in 20 years new Sheldons will say “why do people say theoretical particle physics is hard? It isn’t Multi-Quantum Dual Entanglement or Theoretical zeta wave neuro-interface biophysics.”

      1. So, I take it you’re a rocket scientist, Howard? pfff…you probably don’t even have a Ph.D

        1. I love watching nerds argue online. The term “40 y/o virgin” comes to mind.

          1. i had about 5 people look at me wondering why i was laughing so hard at my desk… this is hilarious…

          2. you’re right – it is!

    2. Just an FYI, rocket science is more than “aeronautical and aerospace engineering” and can include multiple disciplines. Astrophysics, for example.

      1. Just an FYI, I know what “rocket science” entails. :)
        I didn’t feel like listing aerospace dynamics, lean six sigma methods, engineering design and rapid prototyping, compressible flows, infinite random matrix theory, logistical and transportation planning methods, various propulsion systems, etc.
        It was meant to be a simply put joke. If anyone gets it, fine. If they don’t get it, that’s fine as well. I don’t know what else to tell ya.

        1. Thank god for google right

        2. After NASA crashed two Shuttles…… rocket science isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

          1. that just shows how hard it is. they’re freaking geniuses and still didn’t get everything perfect.

      2. Just an FYI, nobody really cares. This is getting REALLY far away from the point of the article. . .

  5. Man, how out of touch is this guy? … I blame him solely for their failure to properly adapt Windows Mobile after the success of the original iPhone. Anyway, I guess I should sign up my 14 year old daughter and her friends for CS classes at the local university now.

  6. As a “Computer Scientist” I’d like to point out that I’m not a “Rocket Scientist”

    1. Its not like this stuff is rocket surgery!

      1. What’s all this computer rocketry?

    2. Back in high school I did build a rocket as a class project and I know how to use android I’m halfway done with my business degree. I must be some kind of super genius

  7. I agree 100% with your article!

  8. Nice job on the Microsoft logo. Looks like it was printed on paper, cut out (not even a straight cut), and taped on. Really? That’s the best Microsoft can manage?

    1. They really are slipping, aren’t they?

  9. That’s just funny because my 10 year old daughter uses her Samsung Fascinate without any issues. She must be a genius!!

    1. put that on an application and she could get in to Harvard right now!

    2. Agree…my 4 year old flat out operates my Nexus S and my ThinkPad Tab with ease too.

      Offers from Yale, Cornell and Harvard have come in since Steve Balmer announcement!

    3. why in the world does your 10 year old have a fascinate in the first place? there’s absolutely no need for her to have such an advanced and expensive phone that will have a huge chance of being broken or stolen.

  10. So Computer Science = Rocket Science?

    1. If Android=Computer scientist for balmer then computer scientist could=Rocket scientist for the rest of us.

  11. My 55 y.o. mom can barely use a (windows) computer.
    I gave her my DX after I got the Bionic. .. I gave a quick lesson on the basics and gave her the instruction manual. I have to say she is pretty dam good with android now.

    1. You’re sure your mom isn’t a rocket scientist?

    2. This is the real test. A 2 year old can run windows, apple, and an Android. It’s someone who is 55 that needs to prove it’s simple.

  12. Well, he is solidifying that he is still an idiot.

  13. windows phone – so simple a retard like steve balmer can use it!

  14. Yet they make more money off of Android than their own mobile OS…

  15. Not to stick up for Ballmer, but, um, yeah. He said “computer scientist”. I can see his point to an extent. Android has a much bigger techie contingent than Windows phone will ever have. And the Android mindshare is largely connected to techies. So while I appreciate your dedication to Android, you’re kind of shifting the context around and that is just bad writing.

    EDIT: Nice edit there, but you still have a lingering “rocket science” in the third sentence.

    1. Sorry, but how is the fact that a lot of computer scientists like using Android in anyway related to his point. Correlation is not causation. In the same way you could say that Coca Cola has much larger following of Nuclear physicist than Pepsi, therefore you must be a Nuclear Physicist to drink Coke.

      1. This is a tech device, not a soft drink. If someone said “You don’t have to be a graphic designer to use Windows, but with Apple you do”
        I’m sure a lot of us would have a good laugh at its absurd nature, but at its root, the statement isn’t really false.

        His statement is nothing that we, as Android fanatics, shouldn’t both laugh about and be proud of. That is my only point.

        Oh, and the fact that the original article misquoted him (as you can tell from several other comments on this page).

  16. To use Android? no. To take full advantage of all it has to offer? Maybe…

    But, really. Who uses the term “computer scientist” anymore??

  17. Yeah, Ballmer basically complimented every person who prefers Android-based devices to iWhatevers and WinPhones. My 14yo is a genius! I’m so proud.

  18. My 2 grandbabies, age 2, can work my phone, call their mom, and bring up apps they like. I guess they’re ready for college! Rocket scientist indeed!

  19. I said this on Engadget and I’ll say it here. I think he misspoke but he is right in a way.
    At the risk of having a bunch of people attack me over MY OPINION LOL, I am not saying Android is horrible. It is not. I am simply saying Android DOES have a bit of a learning curve and it has nothing to do with the other OS and what features they lack. It has to do with the way Android(pre ICS) implemented the features into it’s OS not to mention for the common user, you have to sort of re-learn Android everytime you go from manufacturer to manufacturer as one skin(Sense does something entirely differently than the way say blur would do it) or lacks the features that another skin may have

    1. sure…stock android is a setup process. but any samsung or motorola device is brain dead simple.

    2. Hmmm…my gf knows nothing about computers and went from an OG Droid to an EVO with zero learning curve. She also uses my Bionic and has no problems. Fact is, people interact with their phones using apps, and skins don’t get in the way at all.

      The only way I can see having any issues moving from phone to phone is if your new skin has a different widget set, in which case you just download a different widget.

      Unless you consider downloading a widget analogous to “being a computer scientist” then you’re wrong; Ballmer isn’t right “in a way.”

      Edit: Also, I’d love to hear what this means: “Sense does something entirely differently than the way say blur would do it.” Having used both, I have yet to encounter them doing things differently, let alone “entirely” differently. Please enlighten me.

  20. I know this is at the other end of the spectrum, but Hulk Hogan uses an iPhone. Does that mean that its typical user are retarded geriatrics with brain damage?

  21. You know I see all sorts of people using Android. As usual, Ballmer and Microsoft can’t bring out a mobile phone worth 50 cents now so rather than fix it, he points out other’s faults. Not very becoming, but it’s what I expect from Microsoft and Apple.

  22. Of course he’s not being totally serious and is just making a joke and a point. Android is quite silly in some regards. Why does it take 3 taps in the calendar app to add an appointment, for example? Menu > More > New event. Absurd.

    1. You should maybe consider trying the long press function that has been available on Android forever. Long press, click “New Event”. Doesn’t sound absurd to me.

      Though, I am a computer scientist, so my intellect is probably far superior to yours.

      1. LOL you’re a moron. It takes a computer scientist to think it’s better to long press, and spend more time waiting, to add an appointment versus having a small, simple plus sign somewhere on the main calendar screen to do a very commonly used core function.

        No wonder computers suck. None of you get people. Don’t make assumptions about my background, education, or intellect. You only make yourself look even more stupid.

      2. Also, the long press doesn’t work on the agenda view – the most useful view the calendar app has. Even on month view, the long press takes 2 taps.

        Adding a small plus sign in the top right corner, for example, that goes immediately to the “new event” makes the most sense of all.

        1. Did I miss a memo or something? If I’m in Agenda/schedule/here’s-your-day-in-list-form-in-30-minute-increments view, I just “regular touch” (no long touch, please) an open slot and–poof–the Create event window opens.

          1. You must not be running stock Android. Other calendars from the likes of HTC and such are much better about the user experience.

    2. Although Android (pre-ICS) sometimes makes you take some winding paths to get where you want to go, it doesn’t take me 3 taps to get to the screen to create a new event.

      ONE TOUCH METHOD — I just touch a date (that doesn’t already have an appointment) in the calendar app and Android opens the create event window for that date.

      1. and 1.5. I just double-touch [surely you’re not going to charge me two full independent taps for a simple double touch :-) ] a date that already has appointments in the calendar app and Android shows me that date in 30-minute increments, showing any existing appointments.
      2. I touch an empty time slot and Android opens the create event window.

      I didn’t use computer science training (though I have it) or rocket science training (of which I have none) to discover this process, nor did I read a manual. I just went with the visual flow of the calendar app.

      P.S. I’m of the opinion that a well designed GUI shouldn’t require me to read a manual to do the first 90% of what I want to do. The last 10%? Well, maybe.

      1. Those work in day and week view it seems, but not agenda view.

        Agree with you on the P.S.

  23. Sweet, time to update the resume.

    Occupation: Computer Scientist. Part time Rocket Scientist.

    References: Steve Balmer.

    1. Too bad Brain Surgery was not mentioned by Ballmer. Would have liked to add that to my resume.

    2. At least all the art majors have iPhones so hipsters still don’t have any credentials.

      1. You wish hipsters only used iPhones *rolls eyes*

    3. lmfao

  24. Is he out of touch or what?

  25. Although I am in no way a supporter of Microsoft products, I think one area where Android can learn from M$ is through the OS updates. M$ did it right, and restricted carriers from skins and bloat which makes it easier to update their phones to the latest OS version. I wish Google would do something similar with Android and work to get the latest OS versions out as soon as possible to every possible phone that supports it. Having to wait months or a year to see an update is ridiculous.

    1. Google can’t do that because Android is open source. They legally have to allow manufacturers to do what they want with it. I’m sure google would love to have a completely seamless experience for everyone but since HTC started Sense it’s been over sadly.

  26. and yet, it sells better than windows phone.

  27. Funny he says that, because my son who turns 2 in a week navigates and uses my Transformer tablet to play his games and apps like a pro. Knows how to get to Sprout, Kid Mode, and his motorcycle game quite easily.

  28. u gotta love ballmer pics

  29. As a computer scientist I can go ahead and say fine Steve Ballmer if you think your phones are so simple that someone like me would prefer Android then I’ll follow your advise and stay happy with my phones powered by the little green robot.

  30. Well, he’s no Computer Scientist. Microsoft Board gave him a B-, remember?

  31. Photo looks like a really bad parody of the early James Bond villians. Kind of disturbing, too, if you look at it for any length of time, like Howard Dean’s primal scream moment.

  32. Looks like someone’s getting desperate… What am I saying, of course, WP7 is so much better, with its gigantic app marketplace of 10 apps, and its amazingly stupid Fisher-Price tile interface. *Sarcasm*

  33. Windows phone – so simple even a screaming, chair-throwing, monkey-boy can use it!

  34. waaaaait. waaait. is he saying you’re retarded/have down syndrome if you use windows? Also, where does this put apple?

    oh how I love the unintended consequences of his implication.

  35. Reminds me of a comedian, Jim Gaffigan maybe, said something along the lines of “What do rocket scientist say when something is hard? It’s not like we’re trying to talk to girls.”

  36. If it takes a computer scientist to use Android then it takes sleezy sales tactics to sell a Windows phone.

  37. I dont always say stupid things, but when I do I compliment the competition.

  38. I took Computer Science last year at a Community College (I’m 15) and passed it but some of my friends know android nearly as much as I do and they never took any CS classes…

  39. Um….the CEO of Microsoft, who makes the most COMPLICATED pc OS, is tryjng to call ANDROID hard to use?! HA. Microsoft is just pissed that they make more money off of Android than they do their own shitty phones because nobody wants one, not even many devs. I like Windows, but thats where Microsoft should stay. Windows Phone is for children and technically challeneged dumbasses that have no thought process and can’t figure a damn thing out for themselves. Its like iOS, without the few features that make it cool. ICS is going to destroy. It worries me to know that an idiot like that is in charge of Microsoft now.

  40. A thousand words can be said about Steve’s picture above, to start with, he looks like a complete idiot!

  41. For some reason Stevie B’s comments have really irritated me!

    Usually I ignore this sort of thing but the sense of overwhelming smugness he sweats is just a bit too much

    For a laugh and as a bit of a two finger salute to him I’ve put a tumblr blog together fr people to say who they are, what they do and that they love android. Computer scientists most welcome too (as an ex coder myself)

    Even better, yes he’s a billionaire and he runs one of the most successful companies ever, but if you want to add something that you’re pretty sure you can do better than him, feel free to add it in :)

  42. Who’s got a red tie, one thumb and likes Asian fetish porn?

  43. All I can say is Windows Phone and OS are shitty stuffs :)

  44. First Steve Jobs calls Android users ‘too geeky’ now Steve Ballmer! Hey, I like being called geeky but now I wonder how does both Steve Jobs/Apple and Steve Ballmer/Microsoft see their own users……how I see it is that it insults their own users and labels them as not as bright.

  45. If you have to be a computer scientist to use Android, then I’m a computer scientist! Stand up and be counted!

  46. It’s only natural for the the worst selling smartphones (ie: Windows) to bash and be jealous of, the best selling smartphones….Android!

  47. Wow. My 67 year old father can barely check his own email on the computer, but he loves his Droid X.

    I’ll have to find out where he can get his honorary degree in Computer Science… one I had to work years to get.

    Go figure.

  48. i’m happy to be more intelligent than Steve!

  49. If Balmer is attempting to disparage Android you know it must be really good.

  50. I think he meant to say, “You have to be a computer scientist to check out, compile, and flash Android.” But then again, he’d still be wrong.

  51. Well Steve Ballmer is a manager, but honestly he has no clue how to use anything, I swear even Windows XP is too complicated for the Redneck CEO. But all he is doing is motivating the haters and put gasoline into a fire of people who love to complain about platforms other than their favorite.

  52. “you must be a rocket scientist to use android”…

    and you must be an absolute idiot to be using a Windows phone it sounds complete

  53. Man all this time i’ve been a scientist and i had no idea!!!!!

  54. What I get from that is that iOS and WP7 make people stupid. You don’t need to learn how to use it or figure anything out. Everything is made oversimply because stupid sells.

  55. Pitty him…haha

  56. I guess these little kids are all 2 year old rocket scientist and toddler computer scientist. Doogie Howser watch out.

  57. This guy is one of the least qualified and boneheaded CEOs I’ve ever seen. The company he’s supposed to be maximizing profits for MAKES MONEY off of android sales. Money that they don’t have to earn. There’s no cost to them, just straight profit. And here he is basically telling people not to buy this product that M$ is raking in the cash from.
    Whether the statement is because he’s an idiot who really can’t figure out the phone or because he’s blindly biased to favor WP7, he’s basically telling people to stop giving Microsoft money. Moron.

  58. Ballmer is a jackass. He is the perfect example of a sales idiot that gets to the top and doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about. But when it comes to sales, he can sell ice to an Eskimo which seems to be his only talent. If I was a Microsoft employee I’d be embarrassment to call him CEO. Where is Bill Gates?

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