Brilliant comment from “Chucky” on a post from from Michael Tsai:
Microsoft in 1997 had a very specific corporate strategy. They had a temporary situation of great market leverage. And rather than concentrating on making better products for their users, they began to concentrate on two objectives:
1 Using their leverage to avoid the rise of middle-wear.
2 Using their leverage to grab a rent-seeking slice of the commerce their users did out on the internet.
Microsoft in 1997 was willing to be incredibly evasive and disingenuous in its pursuit of those goals.
Does any of this remind you of Apple in 2011 in any way?
Apple has steadfastly avoided the creation of middleware on iOS – stuff like Flash, which acts as a layer between the OS and the application. And it is now using its leverage over the platform to grab a slice of all the commerce people do through apps.
Who’d have thought that Steve Jobs would have stuck so closely to the playbook written by Bill Gates?
"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.