In my quest to figure out what is happening in the computer business I have been thinking a good deal about how we got here. In two separate conversations in less than a week friends have pointed me back to the 2007 All Things Digital conference where Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal interviewed Steve Jobs and Bill Gates together. The whole thing is available on YouTube here. There are many fine moments, but if you want to cut to the best one, go to 3:30 of part 11. Where an audience member has just asked what they had learned from each other and Bill Gates says: "Oh I would give a lot to have Steve's taste." He then goes on to eloquently summarize the magic of Steve Jobs all in a couple of sentences.
The focus moves to Steve and he talks about Microsoft's skill at partnering: "Bill and Microsoft were really good at it." and Steve further explains how Apple didn't need to think that way because they were building the "whole banana" and Microsoft needed to be good at it because they needed partners to succeed. This could not be more true today. While a fair amount has transpired in the three years since this interview was taped, the basic facts are as the two founders said on that day: Apple has taste and Microsoft knows how to partner.
There has been all kinds of news out of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner conference this week about how Microsoft is going to leverage its partner ecosystem to be the biggest player in the cloud and other areas. I don't think anyone could have said it better than Bill and Steve did in 2007.
The entire hour is very much worth watching and amazingly revealing about post PC devices, tablets, social media, multiple screens -- all the stuff we are talking about today. Check it out.