Why I Like Bill Gates More Than Steve Jobs
I have an iPod - to which I am very attached. I have had my iPod Nano for a couple years now. All of my kids and my wife have iPods. I hike frequently in the Colorado Mountains near where I live and I can’t do it without my iPod. I can’t work out at the gym without my iPod. I can’t drive my car without my iPod.
I have an iPhone – to which I am very attached. I have had my iPhone for about 6 months now. It goes with me everywhere and – along with AT&T – was a reliable tool for me in Australia and Asia late last year. My wife has an iPhone. All the sales and technical staff at Applied Flow Technology have company-provided iPhones.
For my iPod and iPhone I frequently download music on iTunes. iTunes holds my entire precious music library.
I am emotionally attached to my iPod and my iPhone.
My first experience with a graphical user interface was on an Apple Macintosh. Although I never owned an Apple computer, at my first engineering job I worked regularly on a Mac for five years. It was at my second job where I first became acquainted with Microsoft Windows. Version 3.1.
My first PC was an 8086 IBM clone (from Dell) running Microsoft DOS 3. Command lines. Arcane. High barriers to usage. Definitely the tool for an engineer.
When Steve Jobs passed away a few months ago there was understandably a lot of discussion in the media on his contributions to society and the marketplace. Like many of you I read a number of articles on Steve Jobs and watched several news programs and documentaries. Somewhere along the way I picked up on Steve Jobs’ apparent disdain for Bill Gates and Microsoft.
That sentiment has been bothering me ever since.
Today Apple is the most valuable public company in the world. Microsoft – which not too long ago held that distinction – has, in the opinion of many, seen its better days.
Steve Jobs created Apple out of a garage and was instrumental in building that into a multi-billion dollar company. Twice. Once originally and then, after being kicked out of his own company for ten years, when he saved Apple from potential bankruptcy in the 1990’s. During that time away from Apple he was an early investor in Pixar – another multi-billion dollar company which he helped build. A person who helped create two and arguably three multi-billion dollar companies is one amazing individual. Steve Jobs was amazing, no doubt.
However, Steve Jobs’ (and Apple in particular) always seemed to be about control. His lack of an open architecture for the Apple computer was a big turn off for me. I much preferred the openness of the IBM “PC” so my preferences went that way – along with a huge percentage of the marketplace. Bill Gates and Microsoft were instrumental in propagating the graphical user interface to the masses – both in business and consumers.
Bill Gates and Microsoft is what made Applied Flow Technology possible.
But that is not the only or even the main reason why I like Bill Gates’ more than Steve Jobs’. Microsoft was always open and supportive of outside innovators (as long as they did not compete with Microsoft – a subject for another day!).
Steve Jobs’ disdain for Bill Gates and Microsoft was based, I believe, on creativity. That Microsoft was not creative. And as far as that goes he was mostly right. Apple has been a more creative company than Microsoft.
However, Microsoft has been a more open company than Apple and that has allowed outsiders to achieve their own independent success.
Apple invented the PC but they lost their lead to IBM heritage PCs because of Apple’s closed system mentality. The PC and Microsoft achieved dominance because they were on an open platform, and Microsoft was further open by developing and providing tools to an army of independent software developers who built applications for the PC to run on their Windows operating system.
For the first time the world opened up to small companies (even one-person companies) who could cost-effectively leverage Microsoft’s efforts and tools to influence their own industries and build their own new companies. The software tools developed by these small companies allowed other small non-software companies to exist and thrive. There was and is a multiplier effect from Microsoft’s efforts that has allowed countless individuals and new companies to find success.
In parallel, Microsoft’s tools allowed large companies to collaborate at a level never possible previously. This provided numerous efficiencies in large companies that helped them become more capable and competitive.
I liked Steve Jobs because he made our lives more enjoyable. I like Bill Gates more because he has made our lives more successful.
Nice point of view. Question: Was the "mentality" about software openness changed by the same Jobs when he returned to Apple in 1997 (till his last days in charge)? I remember the in 1995, by example, the ACAD version 12 for Mac existed, later on Autodesk stop making Mac software and nowadays you have again ACAD for Mac. What about AFT? Is Apple open to make AFT software for Mac? Is it a matter of market and economics?
When I started using the iPod and iTunes I was always suspicious of Apple. i think with all the iPhone and ipad app developers out there Apple did become more open. And I suspect they learned that trick from Microsoft. In any case, I have no idea if Apple is open to AFT software on their platform. The fact that Apple computers are so rarely used in engineering applications means it would be a small market and not worth the effort today for a company like AFT.