Bill Gates weighs in on whether Microsoft will develop its own rival to Apple iPod

“Minority high school students from the Seattle region made the most of their audience with Bill Gates on Friday – including one question so incisive that many in the Microsoft Corp. chairman’s own industry would like to know the answer. ‘Is Microsoft going to develop a handheld, you know, MP3 player, to combat iPod?’ asked Schyler Mishra, 19, a senior at Seattle’s John Marshall High School, referring to Apple Computer’s dominant music device,” Todd Bishop reports for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “Gates, appearing at the company’s annual Minority Student Day, had already complimented Apple, Google and other rivals during his speech, while also touting Xbox 360 and other Microsoft products. He smiled at the question and proceeded to give the students a lesson in the art of the indirect answer. ‘Yeah, Apple has done a fantastic job with the iPod. How many of you have iPods?’ he asked, as a smattering of students around the conference room raised their hands.”

Bishop reports, “Gates looked around the room and continued: ‘We are talking with partners about how we, working with those partners, can make even better music players. We’ve got some in the market today. I’d say in total they have about 20 percent market share, which is lower than we like, and so we’re seeing where we can come together to make a device that’s less expensive and connects in better ways, does photos and videos in better ways.’ He added: ‘I don’t think what’s out in the market today is the final answer. But again, it just shows the magic of software. Apple did a very good job on iTunes, did the user-interface design right. That means we’ll have to match all that good work and do something even better.’ And so, Gates concluded, ‘Between us and our partners, you can expect to see some pretty hot products coming out over the next couple of years.’”

Full article here.

“Microsoft‘s strategy has been to allow various device manufacturers to create players that would be compatible with its software, arguing that it offered consumers more options. However, BusinessWeek reported last week that Microsoft is mulling its own media device in an effort to cut into Apple‘s nearly 70 percent U.S. market share. The company declined to comment on the article at the time,” Reuters reports. “Gates did not disclose any plans for a Microsoft-branded device on Friday and alluded often to working together with partners for future media devices.”

Full article here.

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Related articles:
Thurrott: For any chance of success, Microsoft iPod competitor would have to be perfect – January 27, 2006
Microsoft poised to create portable digital media device to rival Apple iPod – January 26, 2006
Steve Jobs’ suggestion of Microsoft-branded MP3 player a precursor to FairPlay licensing? – January 20, 2006

31 Comments

  1. Yeah, working with MP3 manufacturers to make better players, better for us that is, you the consumer will get screwed.
    Same old same old.

    Is this a first post or something?

  2. But again, it just shows the magic of software. Apple did a very good job on iTunes, did the user-interface design right. That means we’ll have to match all that good work and do something even better.

    Translation: We will look into itunes, copy it, and put it in the windows operating system, where you can’t erase it, and if you launch itunes you will get a command- do you really mean “Window Media Player jukebox”, and itunes won’t pop up.

  3. Gates, face reality – iTunes + iPod rules! And this is only the beggining.

    God, please don’t let Mafiasoft to burden to world with another lame device and software, which is an insult to humanity’s inteligence and dignity!

    Concerned Christians for a Better Digital Life on Earth with Apple

  4. Billy Boy in microsoftese sez: “Apple did a very good job on iTunes, did the user-interface design right. That means we’ll have to match all that good work and do something even better.”

    In English, that means: “Apple did a very good job on iTunes, did the user-interface design right, as usual. That means we’ll have to copy all that good work and hope Apple doesn’t do something even better.”

  5. The word “strategy” in the same sentence with “Microsoft” seems inappropriately complimentary. Perhaps “last minute desperation”, “confused incompetence”, “tepid speculation”, or “bewildered responsiveness” would be more descriptive and appropriate.

  6. I honestly thought that Bill gave credit where credit was due… For one he actually showed some respect to iTunes. I’m always interested in something that pushes Apple along, and keeps them from getting complacent. It benefits us all.

  7. MS will make its own MP3 player. It is a done deal and the only way that they will be able to control the end to end experience. All their so called partners are struggling big time and some will probably be out in a year or 2 (can you hear me iRiver?).

    They are way behind Apple/iTunes. It will be interesting to see if the Apple vs. Apple Corps impacts Apple’s music biz in any way.

  8. “And so, Gates concluded, ‘Between us and our partners, you can expect to see some pretty hot products coming out over the next couple of years.’”

    Really means:

    And so, Gates concluded . . . “Between us and our partners, you can expect to see some really, really mediocre shit come out- errr, can I say shit here? Whatever. I’m the richest motherf-cker in all of human existence. I’ll say what I wanna say. So. Where was I? Oh yes. Well, Schyler, you can expect to see some really substandard, mediocre product — otherwise known as ‘shit’ at Satan’s Core back in Redmond — being pumped out between us and our partners over the next few years. That’s par for the course. It’s what we’ve always done best. You know, copy! I mean, it’s very, very much like what you little shits do when you’re taking an exam or a pop quiz. Do they still have those? Anyway, copy and steal. That’s what we’ve always been best at. And since most of you have it as a goal to work at my company when you graduate, I’ll share a little something with all of you: We actually have a very secret department at Microsoft that has that very name. That’s right. Copy and Steal. It’s just down the hall from the Theft Department and Ripoff Romba — and right next to the internet café, which is where we keep tabs on all of Apple’s doings with our highly-paid crackers and hackers, many of whom used to attend school in this very building. But anyway, in answer to your question Schyler — Yes. Yes, we plan to have some answers to the iPod and many, many other Apple offerings . . . some time in the next couple of years. By which time I’ll be fully retired. So I won’t give a shit.

    Any other questions?”

  9. Microsoft does have a marketing ace up it’s sleeve– the X-Box 360. I would lay money that, if they decide to come in the market, it will be like this:

    1- Marketed as an X-Pod, tagged from the makers of the X-Box similar to Apple’s marketing of the current form iMac as being from the iPod team.

    2- An online music store that is accessible from the X-Box or a Vista PC.

    3- Have an input/control/navigation device that is based on a cut down version of the X-Box controller.

    4- Will have downloadable game content. Simple handheld stuff like Palm games.

    If done well and backed properly, it could be a formidable competitor to the iPod. Don’t be too smug.

  10. Gates concluded, ‘Between us and our partners, you can expect to see some pretty hot products coming out over the next couple of years.’

    Serious question: when was the last time Microsoft released a “hot product” of any kind? I’m honestly having trouble thinking of one. Maybe Flight Simulator? Microsoft just isn’t associated with “hotness” and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

  11. Why microsoft still wanna make mp3 player to rival with apple ipod?

    Microsoft dominate OS(Windows) market.
    Apple dominate music player market.

    is that not fair enough for microsoft?

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