I have spent the last 6 work hours with earbuds on and eyes glued to the WSJ coverage of da D. I don’t know much about what seems to be the geek’s equivalent to the Detroit Auto Show, except that it brought together a rivalry that looks much like a Michigan State/Unv of Michigan inner-state Big 10 football game. As fierce and loyalty-driven as all the fans become during that weekend in October, when you take a step back, you really can’t compare the 2 teams beyond families with split green and white/blue and gold flags flying. I’m talking about Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates. Apple vs Microsoft. Steve and Bill sat down for a joint interview at this gigabyte mecca event, before which they hadn’t done since like 1991 for Fortune (aside from sitting at the same dinner table at the same conference in ’05). I think a few techies actually died happy right there in their conference room folding chair.
As they politely took turns answering questions, Bill in his Dwight-esque beige uniform and Stevie in his jeans and signature black turtleneck (Tell me; WHO else do you know that can pull off a turtleneck in that sexy way? Tell me. Who? Nobody.), its evident that there will be no taking it out back after the meeting, there will be no dropping of the gloves. These two computer giants, in the last decade, have taken very different approaches to the personal computer and tech specs in general. They have veered in different directions. They were pedalling down a very narrow road next to each other. Their only options were to knock someone down gladiator-style or take different roads at the next fork. And that’s what they did. Their answers were very different, they answered in very different styles, you could see the differences in visions and success. Incomparable.
As opposed to the predicted battle royale, these men are decidedly getting older, their punches less fiery, competitive nature calmed. As they both have their billions stashed away, they are riding the wings of success in their prime. This interview found them both simply reminiscing about the good ol’ days of 16k modems when they used to work together and pushed each other. Most people ended up calling it a love-fest vs the must anticipated smackdown as both companies are wheeling out their fair share of new products this year (Apple TV, Windows Vista, etc). The only squib came from my husband in a separate interview earlier in the day when he said PC-compatible iTunes was like “handing a glass of ice water to someone in hell”. OH SNAP. But other then that, you can tell they are no longer friends nor rivals. They are watching over their respective well-oiled kingdoms from afar and smiling, thinking “…and it was good”
PS – Bill made some comment at the beginning about how he is not the “Fake Steve Jobs” I laughed at this simply thinking that, of course, Bill is just jealous of my husbands success. But after some research, I discovered that he was refering to this Fake Steve blog that take a witty twist on Steve vs Bill issues, which you must imagine, I am in love with.