Jobs vs Gates

The New York Times writes about the battle between Apple and Microsoft in online music and which is likely to extend into other forms of entertainment:

The iPod, Mr. Jobs boasted at the event, has become the “Walkman of the 21st century.” It dominates its market in a way that no Apple product has done in a generation, raising the possibility that the company is becoming more than just a purveyor of computers with high design and low market share. If Apple continues to ride the wave of digital consumer electronics products, it may become the Sony of the 21st century.

For that to happen, however, Mr. Jobs must do what he failed to do last time: prevail over his old nemesis, Bill Gates, who sees entertainment as Microsoft’s next great frontier. Microsoft is working hard to make sure that the iPod is less like the Walkman and more like the Betamax, Sony’s videocassette format that was defeated in the marketplace by VHS.

In many ways, the story sounds eerily familiar. As was the case in computers, Apple has sprinted ahead in the music market with an innovative product, elegant design and tight links between its hardware and software. Plodding along after it is a vast army, organized by Microsoft, of rivals that may be less skillful than Apple but offer a broader array of options and cheaper prices.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.