Steve Ballmer, Microsoft
Ballmer’s apology actually should be double-barreled, if not triple-barreled.
His first apology should be to Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) shareholders, who have seen the stock’s price (literally) go nowhere since for 11 years after he took over as head of the company in 2000. Not that new challenges haven’t popped up — like the iPhone, cloud-based office software, digital music, tablets and more — but Microsoft hasn’t done particularly well on any of those fronts.
He also might want to apologize to a handful of hardware companies too, not to mention consumers. How’s that? Although all consumers are a little resistant to change, up through Windows XP (which was largely developed under Bill Gates’ leadership), the new PC operating systems worked, and were broadly regarded as better than their predecessors. Every version of the Windows OS since then has frequently been seen as less desirable than the previous — so much so that users are explicitly looking for a way to avoid the upgrade, including avoiding buying a new computer. It’s the last thing struggling PC manufacturers like Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) or Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) needed working against them.