R. Fink | Jobs and Gates singing a different iTune

The Packet Rat

Packet Rat

Michael J. Bechetti;

'It's another sign of the apocalypse!' the Rat cried, as he looked at the usual blogs. The cause of his outburst: Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, on stage together at the D: All Things Digital conference.

Jobs glowingly described Gates' contribution to the computing world. 'Bill built the first software company,' he said. 'I think the biggest thing was, Bill was really focused on software before almost anybody else had a clue that it was really the software.'

Gates, for his part, fawned over Jobs' Apple II and the Macintosh. 'The idea that [the Apple II] would be a mass-market machine, you know, the bet that was made there by Apple uniquely ' there were other people with products, but the idea that this could be an incredible empowering phenomenon, Apple pursued that dream. ... People may not remember that Apple really bet the company.' And so on.

'It's like they're ... friends!' the wirebiter screamed as he read of the mutual-admiration performance they put on before the conference audience. The image of the senior statesmen of competitive spin, longtime foes since the introduction of Windows, yucking it up like two old Navy buddies was a bit more dissonance than the Rat could handle.

Of course, there's the old adage about keeping your friends close but your enemies closer. A few days later, Jobs was announcing Safari for Windows, Apple's browser ported to the PC. Safari 3, Jobs said at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, will be the fastest browser for Windows and will be distributed through Apple's iTunes ' adding to Apple's investment in Windows software.

That's right ... Windows software. Apple already pushed into Windows with iTunes, and the entertainment software appears to have been the camel's nose under the tent.

Jobs and Apple are now betting that they can do a Windows browser better than Internet Explorer and Firefox, and that it will attract business users looking for a commercial alternative to Firefox and other browsers with smaller market share.

And with Safari now the platform for development of third-party applications for Apple's iPhone and the crux of many other Apple developer efforts, that opens the door to recruiting an even larger community of developers aiming at the Windows platform ' and a huge potential market for Apple software.

Apple software ... on Windows

The whiskered one just can't take that kind of paradox.

First, Apple is focusing on open-standard, Ajax-like tools for its new glam product, the iPhone. Second, it's porting the platform for the iPhone, Safari, to Windows. And third, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates appear to have been secretly playing bridge together whenever Warren Buffet has been busy.

'The next thing you know,' the Rat sighed, 'Hugo Chavez will be riding mountain bikes in Crawford with the president, and Castro will be the next commissioner of baseball.'

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