Is Steve Jobs Bill Gates 2.0?

Yet another masterful Emmy winning performance by Steve Jobs, which met most if not all the expectations of the Mac faithful. GigaOM readers were once again proven right, and Apple launched a movie download service, albeit a watered down version than what most had expected or imagined. (I was wrong, in betting that new widescreen video iPod, which I guess will be unveiled in the next Macworld Show in San Francisco.)

But more than the new products, what was amazing is the increasing similarity in Bill Gates 1.0 and Steve Jobs 2.0. (I speak metaphorically – Bill Gates represents his awesome money machine, Microsoft, and Steve Jobs is the new money machine.) Before the Macheads skin me alive, and Windows zealots call me biased, please let me say, it is a compliment of sorts for the two titans of computing.

So why is Steve Jobs is Bill Gates 2.0?

The anti-DRM crusaders see Steve Jobs (because of iTunes) as the antichrist, just like anti-monopolist people saw Bill “Microsoft” Gates as devil incarnate. (Okay, that’s just a warm up pitch.)

Bill Gates learned early on that controlling the platform is the key to future profits. Steve Jobs 2.0 gets that very well. The iTunes and iPod control of the digital media/convergence markets is quit akin to the Windows domination of the PC business. Microsoft knew that the profits were in selling software an applications and not the hardware, and they let everyone else duke it out in the PC market.

The digital media reality is quite the opposite.

Apple knows that after you are done giving out Hollywood/Music industry its cut, pay for infrastructure and distribution, you are left with little in terms of margins. However, you can make a lot of money on iPods, which is one of the main reasons why Jobs is keeping a tight control over the devices. Let me elaborate – when the PC revolution was in full swing, applications such as Microsoft Office and Quicken sold the hardware, and helped establish the platform, Windows.

(We Mac users remember the days when our productivity software cried for help, at a time when there was a developers’ exodus!) In the post-PC, device world, content is what sells the hardware, at least for Apple. More music, more movies, more television means iPod becomes da platform. This photo from Engadget says it best.

The iTV streaming box announcement to me was a Gatesian moment. The device is still in “beta” and is not going to be available for another few months, perhaps longer. Add to this the harsh truth that Steve could only get Disney (like they have a choice) to commit to the iTunes Movie Store; what you see is a Microsoft type strategy of chilling the market with a yet unfinished product, and get everyone scared shitless. The Barons of Redmond used to do it so well, before their empire started resembling the Roman conquests.

And if you wanted more Gates 2.0 comparisons, well the man wore a shirt, a red one on top of that. How un-black turtleneck is that?

Photos courtesy of Engadget/AOL


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