Still Not Much of a Joke

I mentioned at the beginning of yesterday’s piece regarding Steve Ballmer’s recent comments that his quotes may well have been taken out of context and/or selectively edited for dramatic effect. And, indeed, there’s a bit of controversy about the way they’ve been reported by

For example, the title of’s first article on Ballmer’s comments was “‘iPod users are music thieves’ says Ballmer”, the single-quotes implying that Ballmer actually said those words. He didn’t, and the article has since been retitled “iPod users are music thieves says Ballmer”, sans quotes. An editor’s note clarifies the change.

The Guardian Unlimited’s Onlineblog has transcribed his comments with additional context. I don’t see anything that refutes my analysis of his comments, however.

Here’s the transcription as reported by The Guardian Unlimited:

Steve Ballmer: Let me first talk about DRM. Now we’ve had DRM in Windows for quite some number of years, there’s nothing new about that….

Journalist: [interrupting] Having said that, that hasn’t stopped, you know, pirates from running rampant….

Ballmer: Of course not: nothing does! I mean, what’s the most common format of music listened to on an iPod?

Journalist: On an iPod….

Ballmer: Stolen! Stolen!

Journalist: [confused] On an iPod?

Ballmer: Yes. Most people still steal music. [laughing] The fact that you can buy it and it’s protected doesn’t affect the fact that most people still steal [music]. I’d LOVE to say all problems have been solved, whether it’s iPod/iTunes — where Apple has done some nice work, no doubt about it — but the truth of the matter is we can build these technologies, but as long as there’s alternate forms of music acquisition, there still will be ways for people to steal music.

Ballmer clearly claimed that most music on iPods is “stolen”, and implies that the iPod’s support for non-DRM-protected music is a “problem”. If this is really what he believes, he has no idea why the iPod is so amazingly popular.

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