I just read an interview over on News.com where Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, has some interesting things to say about “smart devices” and the BlackBerry.

Ballmer seems to believe that when it comes to smart devices the only two players or Nokia/Symbian and Microsoft.

Actually, I’ll be so bold as to say that the two of us (Nokia and Microsoft) stand out in that area. Then you have some guys who are more niche players–Palm is more of a niche player, (Research In Motion’s) BlackBerry is more of a niche player, those Linux devices from Motorola, particularly in China, (mean it) is more of a niche player.

Isn’t it amazing how a cleverly placed word or two can make an otherwise ridiculous claim which is the farthest thing from reality actually plausible?

Let me explain…

As I read this interview, I noticed that Ballmer was very particular in the words he used to describe the market that he only sees the BlackBerry as a niche player in. He never referred to this industry that he feels is dominated by Nokia and Microsoft as the smartphone market or the wireless PDA market. He called it the smart device market.

This is actually very clever on his part because he is able to say that he is in the number two spot when it comes to smart devices and that the BlackBerry is only a niche player. When someone asks him how he can possibly call the BlackBerry a niche player in a market that they clearly dominate, Ballmer can fall back on that smart devices label.

Ballmer could always say something like, “Yes, when you are specifically talking about smartphones or mobile PDAs, Research in Motion plays well in this niche, however, at Microsoft we are looking at the bigger picture. We still make PDAs that don’t have wireless capability and you have to take all the barcode scanners and handheld credit card machines. Heck we just sold half a million devices to the U.S. Census Bureau that run a variant of Windows Mobile, although these devices can’t be used to send email and or make phone calls.”

I get it now. Smart devices… I guess that Microsoft and Nokia do dominate that market.