Gates and Job Interview

This time of year I’m sure many of you can relate to hitting the road to visit relatives.  For our family, this usually entails an 8 hour drive to visit my wife’s family in Georgia.

Since I know my kids will be lost in a world of books and portable video games, and my wife will be asleep (instantly), I need to keep myself entertained while I drive the car.

Enter Podcasts.  During this year’s trip I listened to / watched an hour and a half video Podcast interview of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates conducted by Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal at the D5 Conference.  It’s free and easy to find if you go to the iTunes store – look under Podcast / tech.

Most of the interview was a bit dull consisting mainly of Steve and Bill trying to be very nice and complimentary of each other.  The only other consistent theme was Steve repeating endlessly that Apple has many, many, life changing innovations and products coming soon, but he could not discuss them.

But there was one very interesting theme that caught my attention.  You may or may not know that Apple considers itself a software company.  Apple believes that it’s the software that makes their products outstanding.  They do hardware to make sure the delivery vehicle matches the elegance and beauty of their code.  So the interesting comment – Jobs said that the best products effectively combine hardware and software, and that there have been very few products that have ever done it effectively.

I agree.  I believe that the primary problems that make the windows experience less than a computing utopia is the result of the miss-mash of hardware and software that Microsoft has to accommodate.  They don’t control the entire experience.

What products provide an effective, dare I say beautiful combination of hardware and software?  Well the obvious answers include Apples products – MacBook Pro, iPhone, and of course the iPod.  I’d add to the list Palm’s PalmPilots and more recently the Treo series of smart phones.  BlackBerrys also come to mind.  On the very simple end of the scale is my Timex Iron Man watch.

Many more earn a usable distinction (at least a tech guy can figure them out).  I’d put my Time Warner provided Tivo in this category, and BMW’s iDrive.  Although not  a console gamer, what I’ve seen of PS3s and XBoxs also scream usable (good, but not great).

But all and all, I was surprised at the shortness of these lists.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you’ve discovered that is the perfect marriage of software and hardware.  I’d like to see this list grow longer.

I welcome your comments.
Mike Brannan