Apples and Oranges

Probably old news for people that follow the Gods around, but Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did a joint interview at the D Conference, and were surprisingly social in describing their beginnings, team work, careers and occasional elbow brushes. You can view the video and transcript at

“Oh my, grandma, what big hands you have!”

Interesting is how they both describe “approaching the same opportunity so differently”, referring to building Apple and Microsoft in such uniquely different ways, each in a n extremely micromanaged fashion.

Bill Gates: “I’d give a lot to have Steve’s taste-in terms of intuitive taste, both for people and products. We sat in Mac product reviews where there were questions about software choices, how things would be done, that I viewed as an engineering question — that’s just how my mind works. And I’d see Steve make the decision based on a sense of people and product that is even hard for me to explain. ” And here is the kicker: “The way he does things is just different, and I think it’s magical”

Steve Jobs: “Because (Steve) Woz and I started the company based on doing the whole banana, we weren’t so good at partnering with people. And, you know, actually, the funny thing is, Microsoft’s one of the few compaines we were able to partner with that actually worked for both companies. And we weren’t so good at that, where Bill and Microsoft were really good at it because they didn’t make the whole thing in the early days, and the learned how to partner with people really well …. Apple learned that … a few decades later.”

It’s amazing how much of each of these guy’s brains and personalities shine through in their respective companies 25 years later. That is an inhuman amount effort and work that they’ve accomplished.

Even more important though is Jobs’ admission that trying to build the “whole banana” isn’t the fastest road to paradise. That is indeed (albeit on a microscale compared to them) a question we’re constantly battling to answer – where do we tie off our service boundaries and concentrate purely on doing a few things really well as opposed to many things kind of well. But after 20 years, would you say Microsoft has really swallowed it’s own pill?