Bill Gates: ‘I don’t believe the success of the Apple iPod is sustainable in the long run’

“Microsoft founder Bill Gates sees mobile phones overtaking MP3s as the top choice of portable music player, and views the raging popularity of Apple’s iPod player as unsustainable, he told a German newspaper,” Reuters reports. ‘As good as Apple may be, I don’t believe the success of the iPod is sustainable in the long run,’ he said in an interview published in Thursday’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. ‘You can make parallels with computers: Apple was very strong in this field before, with its Macintosh and its graphics user interface — like the iPod today — and then lost its position,’ Gates said.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You could make parallels with computers and the iPod if you want to sound stupid. The Macintosh platform required and still requires huge investments by developers to create compatible software. So, when faced with budgetary contraints, they chose and still sometimes choose to go with the most popular platforms. The iPod simply plays music that can be encoded, for very little cost, in any format the “developers” (musicians and labels) desire: AAC, MP3, WAV, AIFF, etc. The music doesn’t need to be rewritten, recorded, and remastered. It’s like writing Photoshop once and then pressing a button to translate it for use on Mac, Windows, Linux, etc. To draw an analogy between Mac OS licensing and the iPod/iTunes symbiotic relationship simply highlights either Gates’ ignorance of the vast differences between the two business situations or his desire to spread FUD a little thicker. At least he didn’t use the word “super.”

Sony sold 340 million Walkmans worldwide in the 25 years that portable music player ruled the market. So far, Apple has sold only 15 or so million iPods, despite its popularity. If Apple keeps on top of things, the iPod platform will have quite a long run. An article by John Gruber entitled, “Why 2004 Won’t Be Like 1984,” posted on Daring Fireball is well worth reading here.

Why is Bill Gates mouthing off about Apple lately? Because he’s scared of losing and being revealed to the world for what he is: a fraud who got lucky, lacks vision, and couldn’t come up with something original, innovative, and elegant if his life depended upon it.

[UPDATE: 11:45am ET: fixed partial list of compatible iPod formats in MDN Take.]
[UPDATE: 3:15pm ET: Added explanation about why Gates is yapping about Apple lately.]

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Bill Gates jokes about Mac OS X ‘Tiger’ and calls Apple ‘the super-small market share guy’ – May 03, 2005
Another day, another ‘iPod may go the way of the Mac’ article – August 16, 2004
The iPod is not the Mac, so stop trying to compare them – August 13, 2004

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