"If Apple’s strategy succeeds, an increasing proportion of internet users will access through a gateway entirely controlled by a single company. For delighted iPhone users, this may seem like a great idea – just as it seemed like a great idea when Microsoft brought order to the chaotic PC market by developing the de facto standard operating system, and thereby acquired the kind of dominance that became so problematic. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates may have more in common than people realise."
John is sort-of right here. The difference is mostly in slightly deeper motivation. As Robert Cringely once said, Gates sees the PC as a method of transfering every spare dollar, pound and kopek into Bill Gates’ pockets. Jobs, on the other hand, sees what he does as a crusade for good taste.
Where they are absolutely identical is in their execution: neither has
any problem with completely controlling whatever aspects of the market
it takes to reach their goal. Microsoft will use secret APIs to give
their applications an advantage over everyone elses. Apple willsimple refuse to allow anyone on to the iPhone that doesn’t meet their standards.
Just in case anyone thinks I’m having a moment-of-stupid, this is, of course, the standard behaviour of any successful company. In both cases, what’s good for Bill/Steve is also excellent news for their respective shareholders.
And, in case anyone has forgotten their Capitalism 101 lessons, companies are simply engines to drive money to shareholders: they have no other purpose. "Changing the world’, "think(ing) different" and so on are just happy catch phrases which describe the method by which the company will increase value to the shareholders – nothing more. That’s why we have lots of laws to prevent companies from increasing value to shareholders by abusing their employees or customers – because otherwise, they’ll just do it.