A lot has been written and said about the rivalry between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs over the past couple of weeks.

But we’ve never quite heard the differences expressed as clearly as they were Tuesday night by biographer Walter Isaacson who appeared on The Daily Show to promote his new book about Steve Jobs.

Comparing the mystical, artistic vision of Jobs to the “processor-power smartness” of Gates, Isaacson used two products to emphasize his point: “In the end, (Bill) makes the Zune and Steve makes the iPod.”

Ouch.

Of course, there’s more to Gates’ legacy certainly than the Zune music player. But the message was clear: Microsoft just couldn’t make cool consumer products like Apple.

Comedian Jon Stewart could barely contain his laughter after hearing the remark, responding that it could have been the “best eulogy I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Here’s the full-transcript about Gates and Jobs from Tuesday night’s episode of The Daily Show, with the video below.

Stewart: “There’s great stuff in there about Gates and Jobs, and how all of the Apple people are like: ‘We hated Gates, he never got it.’ And all of the Microsoft guys were like: ‘Jobs was crazy.’ But they all had to work together at some level.”

Isaacson: “And they were all right, at some level. What it was — in astronomy we call it a binary star system where two stars are linked because of their gravitational pull in sort of an orbit. And the whole digital age is these two college dropouts who were born in 1955 — Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Unbelievably different personalities. Because Steve is very mystical, artistic, sort of comes from the counterculture. Bill Gates is awesomely smart, with that processor-power smartness to him and makes a great business model for Microsoft. But he never makes the artistic, you know products. I mean, in the end, he makes the Zune and Steve makes the iPod.”

Stewart: (Laughs). “That is the best eulogy I have ever heard in my life.”

Isaacson: “I actually think Bill Gates is a good guy, and Steve thought he was a good guy.”

Stewart: “No, he is. (Laughs). I just love that. One guy made the Zune, and the other made the iPod. Good night everybody.”

Here’s the video of the exchange:

Comments

  • http://www.timacheson.com/ Tim Acheson

    As expected, Jobs’ biography serves as a vehicle for delivering another wave of Apple’s corporate propaganda. Predictably, the Apple fanboys are lapping it up as we see here.

    “Of course, there’s more to Gates’ legacy certainly than the Zune music player”

    Err, that’s a bit of an understatement, isn’t it.

    The fact is, I like the Zune platform, but detest the iTunes platform for numerous important reasons. I like Zune player on my PC, Xbox and phone, and detest iPod.

    iPod goes down in the annals of gadget history as the archetypal example of an over-priced designer-label brand. The iPod is just an MP3 player, and an expensive one, and tied into all the restrictions of iTunes.

    The defining difference between iPod and any other media player boils down to marketing.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/TGZ75URQ6DKTCNXV3RV36ZKALQ Matthew

      Overpriced?  Your beloved Zune was priced the same as an iPod.  Also, over-priced designer-label brands do not sell at anywhere near the rate of iPods or iPhones.  The truth is, Apple sells iPods at very competitive prices, which is part of the reason their competitors kind of gave up.  Apple’s product was high quality, yet still cheap due to favorable supplier relationships and efficient manufacturing.

      You don’t see everybody wearing Gucci or driving a Mercedes.  However, you do see everybody carrying an iPhone or iPod.  They are affordable.  One other quote for you, from Stephen Fry of Time Magazine:

      “The use of that last phrase, ‘style over substance’ has always been, as Oscar Wilde observed, a marvellous and instant indicator of a fool.”

      • http://www.timacheson.com/ Tim Acheson

        “Your beloved Zune was priced the same as an iPod.”
        You mean the Zune HD device? That was overpriced, too!. But I never mentioned that device in my comment.

        “Also, over-priced designer-label brands do not sell at anywhere near the rate of iPods or iPhones.”

        I suggest that you do a spot check sales volumes of a few designer-label products.

        “They are affordable.”

        There are cheaper options available which are as good or superior.

        Cigarettes are known to cause death, but the tobacco industry still a vast customer base! The moral of the story is, just because a lot of people buy something, doesn’t mean it’s good, or affordable, or beneficial, or anything at all. Are you familiar with the parable of the Emperor’s New Clothes? It’s a wise old tale offering a genuine insight into human nature.

        “One other quote for you, from Stephen Fry of Time Magazine”

        You cite a celebrity endorsement? You realise that tech companies make arrangements with celebrities to promote products, right? To quote one pro gadget industry commentator: ” is there anything he [Fry] won’t endorse?”

        http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2011/03/04/celebrity-tech-endorsements-you-shouldnt-trust/

      • http://www.timacheson.com/ Tim Acheson

        “Your beloved Zune was priced the same as an iPod.”
        You mean the Zune HD device? That was overpriced, too!. But I never mentioned that device in my comment.

        “Also, over-priced designer-label brands do not sell at anywhere near the rate of iPods or iPhones.”

        I suggest that you do a spot check sales volumes of a few designer-label products.

        “They are affordable.”

        There are cheaper options available which are as good or superior.

        Cigarettes are known to cause death, but the tobacco industry still a vast customer base! The moral of the story is, just because a lot of people buy something, doesn’t mean it’s good, or affordable, or beneficial, or anything at all. Are you familiar with the parable of the Emperor’s New Clothes? It’s a wise old tale offering a genuine insight into human nature.

        “One other quote for you, from Stephen Fry of Time Magazine”

        You cite a celebrity endorsement? You realise that tech companies make arrangements with celebrities to promote products, right? To quote one pro gadget industry commentator: ” is there anything he [Fry] won’t endorse?”

        http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2011/03/04/celebrity-tech-endorsements-you-shouldnt-trust/

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/TGZ75URQ6DKTCNXV3RV36ZKALQ Matthew

      Overpriced?  Your beloved Zune was priced the same as an iPod.  Also, over-priced designer-label brands do not sell at anywhere near the rate of iPods or iPhones.  The truth is, Apple sells iPods at very competitive prices, which is part of the reason their competitors kind of gave up.  Apple’s product was high quality, yet still cheap due to favorable supplier relationships and efficient manufacturing.

      You don’t see everybody wearing Gucci or driving a Mercedes.  However, you do see everybody carrying an iPhone or iPod.  They are affordable.  One other quote for you, from Stephen Fry of Time Magazine:

      “The use of that last phrase, ‘style over substance’ has always been, as Oscar Wilde observed, a marvellous and instant indicator of a fool.”

    • http://twitter.com/ryanisinallofus Ryan Ray

      I think you might be trolling here but if not then you just don’t get it. You may be a smart person but you just don’t get any of the other “people,” or “emotion” based stuff that made the iPod great. Just like Microsoft actually. The world pretty much disagrees with you given the cultural and market-changing impact the iPod had on the world. As an owner of a 1st gen iPod and a Rio PMP (first commercially available MP3 player) I can tell you that the iPod was indeed revolutionary.

      Look, I’m no Apple fanboy. I wish other companies could compete but they just can’t. I’ll try to give you a practical example. Look under your PC laptop. There is most likely a fan on the bottom. How can you (a human I assume) place a LAPtop with a fan on your lap? How can the laptop function with either it’s exhaust, or it’s intake where your lap is supposed to be? Apple actually product designed their laptops. They designed them for humans to use.

      • Sunshine

        Fan on the bottom of a laptop? I have never seen such a thing. Besides, Microsoft never designed a laptop anyways.

        • Anonymous

          But that could change. They are already thinking about it.

        • Anonymous

          But that could change. They are already thinking about it.

          • http://twitter.com/ryanisinallofus Ryan Ray

            The best thing microsoft could ever do is design a Macbook beating laptop. I would love to see it happen. I went to the Microsoft store the other day and was amazed by how much more fun it seemed than the Mac store. Until I looked at the actual computers. It was a mish-mash of mostly poorly designed and poorly differentiated crap. The big PC manufacturers have dropped the ball on the home market in a rush for the bottom-line and it’s biting them in the ass.

        • http://twitter.com/ryanisinallofus Ryan Ray

          Every PC laptop I have ever purchased (including my brand new M11x) has some sort of fan or air intake on the bottom. Hence the need for those silly rubber pegs that only work when used as a portable desktop.

      • Sunshine

        Fan on the bottom of a laptop? I have never seen such a thing. Besides, Microsoft never designed a laptop anyways.

      • http://www.timacheson.com/ Tim Acheson

        Hi Ryan, the iPod was revolutionary, but I don’t overlook the role of marketing in that. ;) And ultimately, it really is just an expensive MP3 player. Furthermore, iTunes is always the most expensive way to buy music.

      • Anonymous

        I’m no Microsoft, Apple, or Google fanboy, but come on, a fan on the bottom of a laptop?  My ASUS U43JC* has a vent on its left side and runs pretty quietly.  My girlfriend’s Sony VAIO S (2011 model) has a fan on the back, just like my MacBook Pro.  I’m not sure which poorly constructed laptop you’re referring to, but let’s not generalize ALL PC laptops as the same.

        I will say that Apple’s laptops have the best trackpads, by far.  It’s not even close; in fact, I’ve never used one Windows laptop with a trackpad that I’ve actually enjoyed using.  I used to hate trackpads until I used a MacBook Pro and realized they could actually be useful and, in some ways, much better than a traditional mouse

        *PC manufacturers need to figure out better product names and slim down their product lines. U43JC? Really?  It’s actually a beautifully constructed laptop made from bamboo and aluminum (with plastic for the screen bezel and underside).

    • http://twitter.com/ryanisinallofus Ryan Ray

      I think you might be trolling here but if not then you just don’t get it. You may be a smart person but you just don’t get any of the other “people,” or “emotion” based stuff that made the iPod great. Just like Microsoft actually. The world pretty much disagrees with you given the cultural and market-changing impact the iPod had on the world. As an owner of a 1st gen iPod and a Rio PMP (first commercially available MP3 player) I can tell you that the iPod was indeed revolutionary.

      Look, I’m no Apple fanboy. I wish other companies could compete but they just can’t. I’ll try to give you a practical example. Look under your PC laptop. There is most likely a fan on the bottom. How can you (a human I assume) place a LAPtop with a fan on your lap? How can the laptop function with either it’s exhaust, or it’s intake where your lap is supposed to be? Apple actually product designed their laptops. They designed them for humans to use.

    • Guest

      The Apple talking points go something like this:

      1) Everywhere that Apple has only minor share, then dominant share != better.
      2) In the couple of areas where Apple has dominant share, then share=better by definition.
      3) If Apple has dominant share and then loses it, like iPhone to Android, go back to talking point #1.

    • Guest

      The Apple talking points go something like this:

      1) Everywhere that Apple has only minor share, then dominant share != better.
      2) In the couple of areas where Apple has dominant share, then share=better by definition.
      3) If Apple has dominant share and then loses it, like iPhone to Android, go back to talking point #1.

  • http://www.timacheson.com/ Tim Acheson

    As expected, Jobs’ biography serves as a vehicle for delivering another wave of Apple’s corporate propaganda. Predictably, the Apple fanboys are lapping it up as we see here.

    “Of course, there’s more to Gates’ legacy certainly than the Zune music player”

    Err, that’s a bit of an understatement, isn’t it.

    The fact is, I like the Zune platform, but detest the iTunes platform for numerous important reasons. I like Zune player on my PC, Xbox and phone, and detest iPod.

    iPod goes down in the annals of gadget history as the archetypal example of an over-priced designer-label brand. The iPod is just an MP3 player, and an expensive one, and tied into all the restrictions of iTunes.

    The defining difference between iPod and any other media player boils down to marketing.

  • Guest

    “In the end, (Bill) makes the Zune and Steve makes the iPod.”

    That kind of sound bite gets headlines and plays to the existing meme that Apple is a winner and MS is a failure. But it’s pretty stupid. First, it’s a huge disservice to what Bill has accomplished in other markets where Apple was either crushed or can’t compete. So as a generalization its validity is suspect. Second, on the specifics, Zune’s failure was more about lack of execution, not lack of innovation. Some still think the HD is the best music player on the market, albeit that it never gained much share. Read the reviews from buyers or look at the user satisfaction numbers. As an iPod Touch user myself, I’d give the overall edge to Apple. But as a music only player it’s respectably close, and the Zune PC software is a much better than iTunes, at least in my opinion.

  • Guest

    “In the end, (Bill) makes the Zune and Steve makes the iPod.”

    That kind of sound bite gets headlines and plays to the existing meme that Apple is a winner and MS is a failure. But it’s pretty stupid. First, it’s a huge disservice to what Bill has accomplished in other markets where Apple was either crushed or can’t compete. So as a generalization its validity is suspect. Second, on the specifics, Zune’s failure was more about lack of execution, not lack of innovation. Some still think the HD is the best music player on the market, albeit that it never gained much share. Read the reviews from buyers or look at the user satisfaction numbers. As an iPod Touch user myself, I’d give the overall edge to Apple. But as a music only player it’s respectably close, and the Zune PC software is a much better than iTunes, at least in my opinion.

  • Guest

    Examining what happened with iPod and Zune is instructive regarding important differences between Apple and Microsoft, particularly things that MS needs to do better. But on the singular issue of art, the Zune UI and related desktop software is far more artistic than iPod and one of the rare occasions where MS accomplished that. So it’s an odd choice to make that particular point. Frankly, Windows Mobile vs iPhone might have been a better choice.

  • Guest

    Microsoft rescued Apple.

  • Guest

    Microsoft rescued Apple.

  • Gary Voth

    Hmm… Given that the Zune was the crucible for Microsoft’s brilliant ‘Metro’ design language that distinguishes Windows Phone from all other mobile platforms, and that ‘Metro’ will soon grace Microsoft’s entire ecosystem from Xbox to Windows, I suspect that Zune will eventually have the last laugh…  :-)

  • Anonymous

    Apple made the Pipin and Microsoft made the Xbox. Each company had their strengths and weaknesses

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jordan-Burke/1588920593 Jordan Burke

    Just because the Zune want a marketing success doesnt make it an inferior competitor. Its so fun for these writers to constantly take shots at a product they never owned.

  • Metalhead146

    this is what would happen if mac tried to make a gaming device they would fail just like the zune because they came into the war between devices too late

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