Battle of the Keynotes: Apple’s Steve Jobs vs. Microsoft’s Bill Gates

This week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs “proceeded to grab headlines around the world with details of a smart phone everyone had expected, but no one else had been able to imagine,” Simon Avery writes for The Globe and Mail. “Less than two days earlier, Bill Gates took the stage before a similar gathering of tech aficionados to do his traditional keynote that launches the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas… He gave a flat, tired performance, even as he showed off features of the Vista operating system, a product that by his own description will be the most used piece of software on the planet.”

“What do these contrasting tones, from the two largest icons of the personal computer industry, signal about the companies they created and lead? One is led by an extraordinary visionary who maintains a vice-like grip on operations. The other is led by a revered technophile who is gradually slipping out the back door,” Avery writes.

“‘Microsoft has a certain cult of personality. Gates is thought of as a special guru, and people sit at his feet trying to understand what he’s thinking,’ says Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates Inc., a research firm in Wayland, Mass. ‘That’s totally different from Steve Jobs. He’s an autocrat. He’s a sun king. He’s very capricious, autocratic, and creative and charismatic. He’s all kinds of good things, mixed with some pretty strange things. It’s a totally unique formula,'” Avery writes.

Avery writes, “The culture Mr. Gates created has defined Microsoft as a ‘fast-follower.’ The software giant moves to dominate a new market where others have already led the way. The examples abound, starting with Microsoft’s move into web browsing behind Netscape, web search and advertising after Yahoo, live software services behind Google, and digital music after Apple and the iPod.”

MacDailyNews Take: Unfortunately, Avery forgot one big thing in his list of examples (he does get to it later in his article). The examples of Microsoft being a “follower,” albeit not so fast in this case, started with Microsoft’s upside-down and backwards take on Apple’s Macintosh. It continues even today with Window’s Vista trying to look and act like Mac OS X.

Avery continues, “Apple, on the other hand, enjoys the reputation of innovator, creating revolutionary products that have shaped the industry, beginning with the Macintosh computer in 1984, the iPod portable music player in 2001 and now the iPhone. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been,’ Mr. Jobs said, quoting Wayne Gretzky.”

Full article here.

Watch Steve Jobs’ Macworld Expo Keynote here.

Watch Bill Gates’ CES Keynote here.


  1. Jobs had a keynote appearance? When? The only appearances worth paying attention to this past week were the electrifying Bill Gates showing off the awesome Windows Vista, and the charismatic Michael Dell exhibiting some pretty cool technologies. Did you see that computer with the flames on it? That thing ROCKS—and it’s Vista ready!

    The best part is these guys have all the advantages of PowerPoint at their disposal. Why would I watch any speech where the speaker didn’t use PowerPoint?

    Cupertino, start your copiers.

    Your potential. Our passion.

  2. Steve is so good at his keynotes, and one thing that he does is repeat important points three times. This helps to drive the point home. However, one thng I have never heard him repeat is:


    This is another example of not only the cultural difference between MS and Apple, but the genetic one as well.

  3. Prediction – Microsoft will be out of the consumer desktop OS business within 5 years. Vista will be the last major update. Dell will close up shop within that period after attempting to write a user-freindly Linux variant. Other hardware manufacturers will want to license OS X and Steve will tell them to go ahead and get stuffed.

    You hear it here first.


    MW: ‘field’ (of vanishing players)

  4. I love the different experiences of watching the keynotes.
    Apple presents a polished video that is available in multiple stream sizes and presented on a well designed site (not to mention now being available as a hi-res podcast), while Gates’ keynote is a small poorly streamed video presented on what looks like a blog assembled by a marketing team.

  5. Also, say what you will about Steve’s ego, but please note that the Macworld keynote is presented as just that… the Macworld keynote. On the other hand you have “Bill Gates Keynotes”.


    Uh, I will pass thanks.

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