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. All I see is eleven to seventeen year old girls walking around or sitting on buses and subways sharing their music experience by sharing their iPod headphones. It may not be great sound quality – but its not about that, Squirting a song via wifi is not sharing the experience – its like exchanging business cards. billy and balmey don’t have a clue. Steve does!

  2. Bill’s quote: “… we can get some of the new users and some of the switchers.”

    How can M$ get some of the switchers? PC’s are what people are switiching FROM not TO!

    Doubt they’re buying a Mac then a Zune.

  3. I think he means switchers from iPods to Zune because they have had a bad experience with cracked whatever’s and batteries and other shit and because they are tools.

    Lots of them out there and they are not all in the garage!

  4. Microsoft currently suffers from unreasonable expectations.
    Microsoft has risen to the top of the PC world and the expectation is that they should have the ability to do the same in every other industry. Unfortunately that has not been the case.
    As a result, thier stock is flat (no stock option bonuses for anyone!) and they continue to struggle.
    It is much easier to get to the top than to stay there.

  5. Sharing music means that you and I are listening to the same song at the same time, so we have a shared experience. That’s why the earbud sharing and the iPod speaker docks. Squirting it to you for you to listen to later (or at least not at exactly the same time) is not the same. Streaming is more appropriate.

    As for the pretty Zune interface, adding a background picture is a fairly simple thing and I’m glad the Zune took a step forward here. If Apple didn’t do it because Steve didn’t want to mess up the clean iPod interface, then hopefully the reviews may convince him. That’s why competition is good. The Zune has a handful of good ideas but overall, it is really poorly implemented especially given that MS took a year to develop it (Xbox guys started work on it last Nov). Note that Apple created the first iPod and the first iPod mini in less than a year.

  6. Mark, excellent point.

    Imagine having an iPod that allows others to hear what you are listening to? Along with a streaming audio, it could send a small data file of your photo, email address, personal info, and anything else you would want them to know about you.

    This could be used for “hookin’ up” with others or for advertising local events, plays, concerts, etc.

  7. My guess is that in 6 months, iPods will be using 802.11g for streaming unlimited audio and video (who needs an FM radio when you have a college campus with 1,000 streaming connections?), and downloading iPod content to/from your computer.. and STILL be 25% smaller than a Zune.

    Anyone with a computer or iPod could have their own local radio and TV station.

  8. Compare the Zune to the very first iPod released before you chuck stones.

    The Zune is not competing against the first iPod released.

    It’s competing against a five year old, mature and very popular product.

  9. Ahhh.. Yess.. This is why I keep coming back to MDN.

    To get my daily dose of hatred and bile from Macheads towards everything non-Apple.

    It keeps my energy level up and my hatred of all Mac users going…

    This is personal, assh*les – and it ain’t going away. I’d punch any of you in the face if I met you on the street.

    And there are many more like me – and our number are growing.

    No rest until Apple is dead!

  10. I don’t think you’d actually punch anyone for their choice of personal computer or consumer electronic. And even if you were that unbalanced, I seriously doubt that crazies like you are really growing in numbers as to cause any of the general public an ounce anxiety.

  11. MacBill

    As I said before, don’t be so quick to dismiss the Zune. Ars Technica just gave a GREAT review of the Zune

    When so much attention is spent on gorgeous packaging, but the player locks up in less than 10 seconds of use, it raises questions. To unseat a player like the iPod and to convince users to ditch any PlaysforSure tracks they might own, Microsoft needed to hit a home run on launch day. At best, they knocked a long double off the wall. That’s pretty good, but not when you’re down by six in the eighth inning.

    That’s what you call a great review Macbill? Locking up in 10 seconds?

  12. The devil, as always, is a very smart man.

    Whatever you think of his products (mainly I’ve just always felt they were built for large organizations which meant choice not right for smaller businesses and individuals) never underestimate him.

    I can’t wait for him to go off and be 100% focused on Africa. Ballmer is no Gates.

    (That said, I must admit that Ballmer is there because Gates thinks he should be, and I should never underestimate BillyG.

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