Ballmer on Google, Bartz on Yahoo! and Berners-Lee on web snooping

Quotes of the year part one: The words that defined the tech world in 2009
Written by Natasha Lomas on

Quotes of the year part one: The words that defined the tech world in 2009

As the embers of 2009 start to dim, whose words of wisdom are going to be ringing in our ears for years to come, recalled as significant, dastardly or just downright funny? silicon.com's Natasha Lomas looks back over the past 12 months to pick out the tech quotes of the year...


"In general, the answer is: Google, Google, Google, Google, Google."
-- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer responding to a question in an interview with silicon.com sister site CNET News.com about what worries him most: the recession-struck economy or search rival Google?


A tiger: Not your average steed...
(Photo credit: claudiogennari via Flickr.com under the following Creative Commons licence)

"Like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten."
-- B Ramalinga Raju, then chairman of Satyam, writing in a letter to the company's board of directors after admitting the IT outsourcing company's revenue had been inflated

"We are meeting, every day big, meaty CIOs who, for whatever reason, have been let go."
-- Vicky Maxwell Davies, partner at executive search company Boyden, discussing the impact of the downturn

"This is not a company that needs to be pulled apart and left for the chickens."
-- Carol Bartz, Yahoo!'s new CEO, giving her first public assessment of the company


"I am confident we can accomplish the impossible."
-- AS Murty on taking over the role of CEO of Satyam

"There can be no justification for this gradual but incessant creep towards every detail about us being recorded and pored over by the state."
-- Chairman of the House of Lords Constitution Committee, Lord Goodlad, calling for new powers to combat a culture of "pervasive" surveillance in the UK

"Google is neither free nor low cost. That's not a joke. We're talking about the enterprise. We're not talking about some screwball consumer thing now."
-- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer discussing the cost difference for businesses between Google's apps and Microsoft's software, in an interview with silicon.com sister site CNET News.com

"People who are completely fixated by technology will give you a Sistine Chapel even if you only need a shed."
-- Tony Mather, CIO of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, speaking in an interview with silicon.com

"Most customers don't know what a megabyte is."
-- Josh Silverman, CEO of Skype, speaking at Mobile World Congress

"Android is not open. It's a marketing label."
-- Symbian Foundation director Lee Williams on Google's open source mobile platform in an interview with silicon.com

"We have got 140,000 cops and most of them don't know one end of the computer from the other."
-- Charlie McMurdie, head of the Police Central e-Crime Unit, discussing the tech skills of UK police



Keep away from keyboards
(Photo credit: Niklas Bildhauer via Flickr.com under the following Creative Commons licence)

"You can always tell if they eat salt and vinegar crisps because you can smell it."
-- Claire Burke, director of tech hardware cleaning company Keep IT Clean, explaining some of the horrors that lurk in techies' keyboards

"We must not snoop on the internet."
-- Sir Tim Berners-Lee hitting out at deep packet inspection

"Google has grown very quickly in a very short period of time. When companies grow that quickly it's almost impossible to get everything right - and we certainly didn't."
-- Omid Kordestani, Google's senior VP of global sales and business development, explaining why 200 sales and marketing jobs were being cut at the search giant

"The whole paradigm that you train, you supervise, you compensate and you retain - all of those are wrong."
-- Web 2.0 evangelist Don Tapscott on how the world of work is changing


"A CIO who doesn't innovate or create is destined to be outsourced."
-- Joe Harley, CIO of the Department for Work and Pensions, speaking in an interview with silicon.com

"It has to be a fundamentalist art."
-- Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch on what it takes to turn an idea into a successful business, speaking in a video interview with silicon.com

"Ultimately we hope to have teams of human and robot scientists working together in laboratories."
-- Ross King, a professor of computer science at Aberystwyth University, discussing how Adam, a prototype 'robot scientist', might evolve

"It's not easy to write good software... It's a craft and some people can learn it. It has a lot to do with valuing simplicity over complexity. Many people do have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be."
-- Barbara Liskov, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and winner of the 2008 ACM AM Turing Award for lasting and major technical contributions to the computing community, speaking in an interview with silicon.com

"We had a lot of people running around but nobody f**king doing anything!"
-- Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo!, on problems with the company's engineering focus

"Cramped keyboards, terrible software and junky hardware."
-- Apple COO Tim Cook dissing netbooks


"Over the last two years, we seem to have had a massive drop in confidence in the system."
-- MP David Blunkett, architect of the National Identity Scheme, discussing public perception of the ID cards project

"We do over three petabytes of data and the full internet is seven - that's remarkable."
-- Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of BlackBerry-maker RIM, discussing how much data the BlackBerry Internet Service handles, in an interview with silicon.com

"The great thing about our industry is that we are excellent at producing great new wireless technologies. The bad thing is we like them so much we won't kill any of them."
-- Andrew Gilbert, executive VP and president of Qualcomm's internet services/MediaFLO technologies and Qualcomm Europe, discussing the problematic proliferation of wireless technologies

"We are going to have to be more disruptive."
-- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on what Redmond needs to do to close the gap with search rival Google

"There's two parties in all this. The other party has to have boatloads of money and the right technology."
-- Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz discussing a possible search deal with Microsoft

"How much time do you have?"
-- Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect, answering a question about what lessons the company has learned from Windows Vista


"I haven't been this jazzed since the release of the iPhone."
-- Michael Rexroad, a Cisco software engineer, reacting to a demo of Google Wave

US President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama (Photo credit: AlexJohnson via Flickr.com under the following Creative Commons licence)

"Our pursuit of cyber security will not - I repeat, will not - include monitoring private sector networks or internet traffic."
-- US President Barack Obama balancing privacy and security concerns

" We have early developer channel versions of Google Chrome for Mac OS X and Linux, but whatever you do, please DON'T DOWNLOAD THEM. Unless of course you are a developer or take great pleasure in incomplete, unpredictable and potentially crashing software."
-- Google product managers Mike Smith and Karen Grunberg being very honest about the quality of early developer previews in a blog post awash with caveats

"History would tell us that generally as you ship a Windows release into the market...the bump is very modest."
-- Microsoft senior vice president Bill Veghte managing expectations about the release of Windows 7

"We are not specifying a ceiling, we are specifying a floor."
-- Communications Minister Lord Carter discussing the 'up to 2Mbps' universal service obligation for broadband in the government's Digital Britain report

"I almost cried - that was my magic moment as a CIO."
-- Former TfL CIO Phil Pavitt discussing the joy of shared services in an interview with silicon.com

"If you could hack into the school's computer you were considered a whizz kid."
-- Former hacker Kevin Mitnick discussing the early days of hacking, in the 1970s, in an interview with silicon.com sister site CNET News.com

Keep an eye out for the best quotes of the latter six months of the year, coming soon.


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