Bill Gates unhinged with Apple envy; Microsoft on path to become high profile casualty

“Trends in the data that have to be massively disconcerting to Microsoft management (not to mention its external shareholders). Dripping, gloppy Apple envy coming from the top. Incredulity at the public’s lack of understanding of Vista’s greatness. These are not signs of a company, of a culture, of a management team doing well. They are failing. Failing to understand their customers. Failing to understand the tone of the market. Failing to understand the kind of messaging that is necessary to get people excited about their products. And yes, failing to transition into the Consumer Era of Computing,” Roger Ehrenberg writes for SeekingAlpha.

Ehrenberg writes, “And I’ve got to say that this latest leg in the Microsoft/Apple battle bears stunning similarity to the duel (although it is hard to have a duel when one of the participants is already dead) between Sony and Nintendo in the PS3/Wii war, while a story that still needs to be fully played out looks increasingly like the nimble, adaptive, consumer-focused company kicking the crap out of the Grand Dame of Gaming. And I am sure over the ensuing months and years we will see more of this stuff happening, where the more consumer-centric, lighter, friendlier applications will dominate the legacy titans of yesteryear. It is all just beginning, and the first and highest profile casualty may well be Sony, closely followed by Microsoft.”

Bill Gates “has not been doing Vista or Microsoft any favors with his recent performance. Contrast this with his alter-ego, Mr. Jobs, who even in the face of controversy surrounding the Apple options backdating scandal can get up on stage and wow his employees, his customers and the technology community at-large. Steve is a rock star. Bill looks as if he’s been living under a rock,” Ehrenberg writes.

Ehrenberg recounts some choice moments from Gates’ February 1st interview with Steven Levy of Newsweek. See related article: Bill Gates has lost his mind: calls Apple liars, copiers; slams Mac OS X security vs. Windows – February 02, 2007

Ehrenberg writes, “Are you kidding me? Bill sounds a little like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, and that he is getting ready to boil Steve Jobs’ bunny. First off, Bill, after having spent an amount exceeding the GDP of several sovereign nations – $500 million – to launch Vista, don’t you think you could have spent even a little of that on media training? THAT is your elevator pitch? Sorry, Bill, but you’re not getting the VC funding you desire. You’re not even getting out of the elevator. Your answer on security: poor. Your paranoia and irritation at Apple’s successful branding and image-making? Nauseating. You’re the richest guy in the world. You do lots of great things with your money. You’re a brilliant man. The Apple threat and a changing world is making you become unhinged. Do something about this. Fast. For your shareholders sake. Please.”

MacDailyNews Take: Gates was much more lucky than brilliant. In fact, we don’t see much brilliance in Gates, past or present.

“And if you think that’s bad, our friend Bill a/k/a Mr. Malaprop is getting the crap kicked out of him by former friends in the media – everywhere. For some reason Microsoft and Bill just don’t get the props they used to,” Ehrenberg writes. “The world has changed. Bill either doesn’t see it or doesn’t want to see it… What do you get when you take arrogance, a ton of cash, an enterprise software-laden culture and fierce competition? Microsoft. People (and what are companies but conglomerations of people, anyway?) react to fear in different ways. Some clam up and stick to what feels comfortable. Others challenge this comfort by acknowledging that something has changed and recognizing that they need to make decisive change. Microsoft, unfortunately, appears to be in the former camp… Bill’s got a bunch of reasons to feel pretty lousy. Microsoft has never been as vulnerable as it is right now.”

MacDailyNews Take: See related story: The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson.

“We may be witnessing an historic changing of the guard, which takes place in every generation. Remember IBM? They were invincible. How could they be beat? By a couple of geeks in a dorm room, that’s how. Microsoft rises. And then another snot-nosed kid with a great idea and a dorm room made it happen in the box business, enter Dell. Then others got wise and squeezed their efficiency-based margins to nothing. Apple rose like a phoenix, crashed and rose once again, by virtue of innovation and a customer-centric ethos. Sony was like IBM. Now they’ve been bloodied by the customer-centric and community-oriented Nintendo,” Ehrenberg writes. “When put in this context Microsoft just seems so big and slow and old, hidebound by 30 years of culture and organizational silos that seem impregnable. And it appears that Vista – the product, the PR, the marketing approach – is the result of such an organization.”

Full article – a must read with much, much more – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Macaday” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: Back on ,January 10, 2005, we took a bit of flack from some readers for our Take, in which we have always believed and therefore reprint here: As we have always said, even as many short-sightedly waved (and continue to wave) the white flag, the war is not over. And, yes, we shall prevail. For the naysayers: In 1929, Ford held just over 61% of the U.S. market for automobiles. GM’s market share stood at just 12%. Ford was thought to be invincible, with GM regarded as a niche auto maker. Probably, some analyst at the time said, “The reality is, long term, GM will always be a niche player.” But, in 1936, just seven years later, Ford held just 22% of the market for new automobiles while General Motors held a 43% share. No company is invincible. Not even Microsoft.

Related articles:
Apple takes dead aim at Microsoft’s Windows Vista in latest ‘Get a Mac’ ad (with video) – February 06, 2007
Bill Gates has lost his mind: calls Apple liars, copiers; slams Mac OS X security vs. Windows – February 02, 2007
Net Applications: Apple’s Mac market share continues rise, hits 6.22% in January 2007 – February 01, 2007
Bill Gates lists Microsoft ‘innovations’ that Apple has offered Mac users for years – January 30, 2007
Apple larger than Microsoft by 2010? – January 29, 2007
Gates bristles over Vista, Mac OS X comparisons – January 29, 2007
Microsoft about to lose the software business just as IBM lost the PC business in ‘80s – July 26, 2006
Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ ultimate goal: ‘to take back the computer business from Microsoft’ – June 16, 2005
Apple vs. Microsoft rivalry heats up again – January 10, 2005


  1. Note to MDN: your analogy to car makers is as faulty as their quality.

    Zillions have their lives, businesses, and their future tied up in the PC. No matter how many blunders are committed by the world’s richest man, Lord Jobs’ market share will never reach double digits.

    What’s working against Apple more than anything else is the decline in quality we are suffering at the hands of Chinese assemblers. Once you get beyond all of Steve’s huckstering (impossible for most around these parts) Apple’s products are becoming ordinary – now, that’s a comparison you can make to US car makers and be right on!

  2. while this guy is a little over the top, I think I fully agree with the notion that Bill Gates is done. Notice I said Bill Gates, not Microsoft. Bill’s media appearances for the Vista launch showed him to be monotonal and repetitive with no sense of pride or conviction. I am fully convinced that he has had it with MS and cant get out of there fast enough. He is totally commited to his charity, and rightly so, it commands a ton of money and should have the full attention of its founder.

    I think he had agreed to launch Vista, but no further. Steve Ballmer’s media absense during the Vista lauch is telling. Steve must have begged Bill to stick around for Vista.

    MS will wither over time. I think it has too much money to die quickly. It will spend itself to death, and eventually reduce itself to Office and XBOX.

  3. Gates was much more lucky than brilliant.

    You can’t build a company as successful as Microsoft on luck alone. You can catch some lucky breaks, ride opportune circumstances however opportunity ‘favours the prepared mind’ so to ascribe Microsoft’s success to luck alone makes the writer of that line as blind to reality as he claims Bill Gates current is.

    You slam various writers for getting it so wrong regarding Apple and then engage in the very same, one-sided journalistic practices….worse I’d say though it takes one to know one.

    Who’s spreading the FUD now?

    It’s impossible to take MDN seriously though I enjoy the links to other articles that show up here.

  4. “Dream On” is wrong about market share, but dead on with his/her take on product quality. It took 3 tries this past December for me to get a MacBook that didn’t have a defective display and even the one I settled with has issues, but issues I am willing to live with. What makes Apple great is the operating system, not the computer itself, but if the quality of the computers continue to get weeker… then, Cupertino, we have a problem.

  5. I’m reading a book called “A New Brand World” by Scott Bedbury, the former marketing director at Nike, and later Starbucks. He has a quote in there about MS that sums it all up very succinctly. He’s talking about how, after the dot com collapse, many executives lost faith in TV advertising, and about how one former MS marketing exec told him that, “Television doesn’t work. Never has and never will.” MS had been working with an agency called Wieden & Kennedy, who Nike also worked with, very successfully. He asked another former MS exec about their experience working with this agency, and he said, “Wieden & Kennedy never got the heart of Microsoft.” Bedbury replied, “That’s funny, I never knew Microsoft had a heart.”

    He goes on to explain that you can throw all the money in the world at marketing a product that lacks heart and soul, that doesn’t resonate with the public, but it won’t do any good.

    That’s the biggest difference between Apple and MS. Apple builds things that they think are cool, knowing other people will want them too. MS builds things to sell so they can get people’s money. There’s no love, pride or integrity in Redmond.

  6. I used Microsoft software for years and years, not once second i ever thought Bill Gates was brilliant.

    In the other hand, i have been using Mac for about six months. I am still amazed how good and elegant Mac OS is. Jobs is definitely brilliant.

    Microsoft has no idea what kind of experience they want to bring to their customers (read: they don’t care). They just fix their product only to follow what everybody’s innovation or if their product is in harm (by virus & spam, etc).

    Gates ? You are just lucky.

  7. Market Share: of desktop PCs perhaps, but there’s other software markets out there where Microsoft aspire Windows to be. What’s the measure with servers, MP3 players, set-top-boxes, mobiles, etc. As the number of digital internet connected devices expands the less-and-less the desktop PC will matter.

    Apple build quality: you are so right that it is poor atm. I’ve got several friends and acquaitances in the music and movies industries, who are all Mac owners, and every single one of them has had a bad experience with poor quality hardware in the last twelve months; from iPods not working and multiple to MacBooks dying, or falling apart. They are all bemoaning fall in Apple quality. NOT GOOD!

  8. You’re delirious, MDN. Wake up! The Vista train is leaving the station, and nobody is gonna stop it. Only a fool would think about getting in the way.

    Vista is the death knell for Apple; denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

    This jerk’s blog post couldn’t be further from the truth. I hosted a Vista release party the night Bill was on The Daily Show. He ROCKED! His confident, enthusiastic answers were electrifying! Vista is electrifying! You Mac dorks haven’t seen anything like it, and Crapple has been sent back to the stone age with this one.

    Unhinged? It’s you Mac loser who are unhinged. I would be too if I picked the loser: OS X.

    Your potential. Our passion.

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