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. However, one thng I have never heard him repeat is:


    He does. At the WWDC.

    At Macworld he thanked the third party developers for creating universal binaries of their apps.

  2. There are many examples of where Apple is the leader (wireless, usb and firewire in all computers) but also many examples of Apple following (though in a smart way). iPod wasn’t the 1st mp3 player; but it raised the standard. The same with the scroll ball in the mighty mouse, AppleTV, iPhone. They weren’t the 1st but they improved upon exisitng ideas or created new ones.

  3. 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?

    Typical ZT bait, but he has a good point.

    PowerPoint has advantages all right. It helps mediocre managers keep their jobs, and lets them hide empty content behind bullet lists and stupid special effects. Why deliver facts when you can show art?

    One aspect that sets Apple apart is they’re about the only company that doesn’t run on PowerPoint. That alone should be a huge asset.

    Look at it this way: Apple headlines the iPhone while CES headlines bigger TV’s. Actions should speak for themselves.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.