Bill Gates: Apple iPod ‘phenomenal, unbelievable, fantastic’

“The rise of China combined with failing US education and tough visa systems means the US must surrender its superpower status and adopt a more multicultural worldview. That’s according to Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman, who said the US is failing to turn out sufficient numbers of computer science graduates or to attract enough talent from abroad to maintain its edge at a time when China is becoming ‘the pace-setter for a lot of things,'” Gavin Clarke reports for The Register.

Clarke reports, “Interviewed by veteran talk show host Charlie Rose, Gates made it clear that China’s rise does not mean the US loses out, but riches and wealth from innovation get spread around more. Grilled by Rose over Microsoft’s own spotty track record on innovation… [and] asked to rate other innovators and their innovations, Gates gave Apple Computer’s iPod two thumbs up. Fresh from launching Microsoft’s iPod rival Zune this week, Gates said the iPod was ‘phenomenal, unbelievable, fantastic’ – something the market had latched on to. Microsoft’s goal with Zune is ‘more modest’ than replacing the iPod, Gates said. ‘It’s a growing market… we can get some of the new users and some of the switchers. We need to excite people about the concept – the idea of sharing’ music and video through Zune’s built-in WiFi, he said.”

Full article here.
“There’s nothing that the iPod does that I say, ‘Oh, wow, I don’t think we can do that.'” – Bill Gates, September 07, 2004.

Related articles:
Bill Gates’ sarcasm regarding Apple iPod: ‘Oh, wow, I don’t think we can do that’ – September 07, 2004


  1. ” It also has a built-in FM Radio, which is crucial for people who want to listen to the closed-circuit televisions at the gym & tune into their favorite radio shows.”

    The Zune is way too big to use while you’re working out. Better to have a Nano and the FM accessory.

  2. “… US must surrender its superpower status and adopt a more multicultural worldview.”

    What a load. The problem is, Bill is just so used to aiding the Chinese steal tech/military info through mile wide holes in Windows that he just can’t stop giving.

  3. Tony… “Compare the Zune to the very first iPod released before you chuck stones.”

    Well, I don’t have the *very* first one, but I have the second one in my hand at this moment. Compared to my 8gb black Nano. it looks like a BEAST. But compared to a zune… it’s quite sleek. Sure the old B&W screen can’t compete, but it STILL HAD A SCROLL WHEEL… and to me it’s all about the scroll (now the click) wheel.
    I think about this every time I scroll down to a name in the U’s on my frikkin crap ass phone. I have to click down every time, or hold the button and hope it doesn’t coast by. NO tactile feedback like an iPod.
    My god… I can’t WAIT to scroll through phone numbers like that.
    Anyway… MS might have made a decent player if they’d taken the (fairly nice) interface and made some decent hardware to put it in.

    Maybe Apple could do it for them.


    MW: ‘view’ (to a kill)

  4. The first iPod decimated the competition. There were others, and the whole point was to compare it to what the market was already offering. Since then, the iPod is still decimating the competition.

    Apple’s initial goal was simply to catch that higher end digital music market and make it theirs. It happened so rapidly that they were quickly moving down the price scale and gobbling everyone up.

    What’s the Microsoft goal for the Zune, to take over the anti-ipod crowd? Or to make things slightly easier for the xbox 360 crowd? There’s got to be some goal here, and it’s not to unseat the iPod.

  5. I think the goal, as outlined in the RDM article is simple – to unload all those failed WinCE boxes that all MS’s partners realized they would NEVER sell. And they all had WiFi, so MS had to figure out something to do with the WiFi, because they were stuck with it. So they got their best ideas people together, and they came up with some fantastically useful ideas. But those ideas didn’t make it, because MS had no clout with the music industry.

    They would have to sign any shitty deal they were offered, so they did.

    And in the process, all those good ideas were swept away, to be replaced by a feature litigated to the point of uselessness, that not even some *desperately* clever marketing could salvage.

    That’s okay, appeal to the outcasts… maybe we can get the freaks.

    Well… you don’t really know what the freaks think of you, do you MS? They might like the XBox, but they like it for the games they play, not the wonderful engineering or the fact that it makes them ‘individual’.

    There is absolutely no reason to own a Zune over an iPod.

    Let’s set the ‘social’ fantasy aside for a second… but as a piece of electronic equipment, that I use every day, for my own purposes…

    There is not ONE. Reason.

    This is where the quick-and-dirty box-assembler-OS-licensee model gets us.
    All the good ideas will come from the software, NOT the part that people actually touch. And hardware makers are hamstrung buy their good ideas ineptly executed, of not poorly supported.

    Zuned. And Delled.

    But I think the market is waking up.
    People want to get these ugly boxes out of their way, not make them uglier.

    Zune is a complete fiasco, from end to end.


    MW: ‘front’ (me a dime)

  6. The thing about sharing music and video on my portable player is that by and large I’m selfish. I can’t be bothered to share my content with other people – I just want to receive stuff for myself. If you could stream iTunes libraries from surrounding networks to your iPod with reasonable battery performance I would find that useful. I could browse and listen to content, maybe find something I liked, add it to an on-the-go playlist then when I get back to iTunes, buy it from the store.

    I can only see apple being able to excite people about wifi since they have the infrastructure of portable devices and libraries already out there to provide reasonable content. They could surely also join up with wifi hotspot providers to sell music via them in some fashion. Bonjour and iTunes sharing will be the thing to make this feature useful – not Microsoft and their vision of people squirting to each other. I don’t want to have to wait for someone to send me something – I just want to take it.

  7. I’m waiting for Ballmer to say something positive about iPods. Gates will sometimes say something sensible, but Ballmer is quite different.

    The thing that I would find most alarming about having a Zune, is that Ballmer talks about how he could squirt pictures of his kids onto other people’s Zunes. At least with an iPod you can be reasonably safe from Ballmer doing that to you.

    Just out of interest, has Microsoft ever said how many Zunes they hope to sell this quarter ? Might it be as many as one million ?

    That’s how many iPods Apple is expecting to sell between today ( Thursday ) and next Monday, with the same for each and every five days during this coming quarter.

  8. Looking forward to see what Apple does with the iPod line now that Zune is out, MS has deep deep pockets lets not forget, but Apple nowadays has some coin to spare too, and can be totally ingenious (not that MS cannot, only much rare-er), so … FIGHT!!

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