Say it ain't so Joe!, Steve. You know, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO.

Remember when he said, referring to the iPhone's 2G launch, "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance."? Yet almost two years later the iPhone is one of, if not, the best selling smartphone around. In an interview with Financial Times (registration required), Ballmer acknowledged the edge companies such as Apple and Google have gained in important parts of the consumer business having "clear market momentum".

While Ballmer may be conceding that Microsoft may be down, they're certainly not out. While Palm isn't making it easier with the well-received introduction of the Palm Pre, Ballmer doesn't strike me as someone who will go quietly. With the announcement of Windows 7, partnerships with Dell and Verizon to increase the distribution of Windows Live Search and the anticipated announcement of Windows Mobile 6.5 next month at the Mobile World Congress, Microsoft may begin to pick up steam in the mobile market.

Plus, just when we thought Windows Mobile Standard was on its last breath with the retirement of the Motorola Q line a new spark is seen in the HTC S743. Ballmer's acknowledgment that Apple is closing in on a lead in the market isn't a sign of defeat but maybe a call to arms. Hopefully, next month's World Mobile Congress will be for Microsoft what the 2009 CES was for Palm.