Microsoft's boss Steve Ballmer slammed the iPhone last week, saying it has "no hope" of gaining a foothold in the mobile phone market.

Ballmer clearly hasn't heard much about the one million AT&T customers in the US already signed-up for information on the new product when it ships.

The Microsoft boss is clearly a little confused as to his own company's control of the mobile phone market, slating Apple for being a minority player: "Would I trade 96 per cent of the market for 4 per cent of the market? (Laughter.) I want to have products that appeal to everybody," reports USA Today.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share," Ballmer said. "No chance. It's a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I'd prefer to have our software in 60 per cent or 70 per cent or 80 per cent of them, than I would to have 2 per cent or 3 per cent, which is what Apple might get."

Microsoft holds just 5.6 per cent of the mobile phone market with its software at this point, behind Linux with 16.7 per cent and Symbian with 72.8 per cent. The company faced years of resistance by mobile manufacturers who didn't want to cede control of the market to Microsoft.

Ballmer also claimed his company has no plans to launch a Zune mobile phone, saying, "We're in the Windows Mobile business".

He added: "We wouldn't define our phone experience just by music. A phone is really a general purpose device," he moves on to describe the typical functions most users expect from a mobile, to observe: "The phone really is kind of a general purpose device that we need to have clean and easy to use."

Most mobile phone users currently complain at the relative difficulty of accessing phone features.