1998 Bill Gates: I can’t figure out why Jobs is even trying to be Apple CEO; he knows he can’t win

Bob Cringely has republished a quote from an interview he did with Bill Gates from June, 1998 for a never-published piece for Vanity Fair:

“What I can’t figure out is why he (Steve Jobs) is even trying (to be the CEO of Apple)? He knows he can’t win.” – Bill Gates, June 1998

Cringely writes, “Look at the two companies today. Jobs is still running Apple despite cancer and a liver transplant while Gates has moved on to saving the world at the Gates Foundation. Microsoft is worth $240 billion, a tiny drop from 12 years ago, with the shares now around $27 (down from $29). Nothing gained in more than a decade. Apple shares, on the other hand, have gone from $7.25 to almost $240, Apple’s market cap has risen more than 33X from $6 billion to $220 billion. And Cupertino’s cash hoard today is almost exactly the same as Microsoft’s at around $40 billion.”

“It’s pretty easy to argue that Jobs did win. Certainly Apple has the mojo lately with its string of home run products like the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and now the iPad. Even Mac market share is up in the double digits and Apple’s profit margins are the best in the industry,” Cringely writes. “The trend line is definitely up for Apple and mildly down for Microsoft.”

Cringely writes, “What Bill Gates didn’t count on when he declared Jobs a loser back in 1998, was the Californian’s tenacity. It took 12 years to do it, but Apple is well positioned now to take Microsoft’s crown.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Here are a few more quotes:

• The one thing Apple’s providing now is leadership in colors. It won’t take long for us to catch up with that, I don’t think.Bill Gates, commenting on iMac in colors debut, circa July 2000

You can’t come up with a new OS.Bill Gates on why Microsoft chose to put Windows inside Tablet PCs instead of a different operating system designed specifically for tablet use, November 2002

There’s nothing that the iPod does that I say, ‘Oh, wow, I don’t think we can do that.’Bill Gates, September 2004

I don’t believe the success of the iPod is sustainable in the long run.Bill Gates, May 2005

Mr. Original can’t even help copying his own sarcastic and proven wrong quotes:
There’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.’Bill Gates, February 2010

Before you fire up Apple’s 30-day free trial of iWork or simply buy it for just $US79, please keep in mind that the quotes above come from the Chairman of the very company that today is attempting to sell you an overpriced, bloated Office suite for your Mac.

Please read: Mac users should not buy Microsoft software (or hardware) – May 16, 2003


  1. You can bet your sweet patootie that Apple will steamroller MS within two years. If the iPad is anything to go by, lord knows what else the Gnomes of Cupertino have up their sleeves for the coming months. Just look at some of the patents that have surfaced over the last few months.

    It’s good to be the King ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />


  2. It is all because one of these to companies has always strived to excellence, perfection and customer centric satisfaction. The other was only hellbent intent in making money, at the expense of quality, user experience and most importantly, customer satisfaction.

  3. “I don’t think…” -Bill Gates, on numerous occasions.

    @DaveH, the dollar is still a dollar. Oh, you mean because of inflation? That’s been pretty steady at about 2%. Oh, you mean exchange rate devaluation? That’s already being factored into inflation.

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