The rivalry that existed between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs has been a topic discussed by Apple fan boys and Microsoft lovers for many years. Although their rivalry effectively ended around 2006; this has not stopped people from either camp continuing the argument about which of them is better. In recent years, due to the surge in popularity of Apple; the reputation of Steve Jobs has never been more revered. Many Apple fans willing to ‘buy anything that is shiny and made by Apple’ still hold him in almost a god like status even though he passed away in 2011. So why is he so revered, and why isn’t Bill Gates viewed in the same light?
Spin is King
Well, it comes down to PR. Steve Jobs was a master of PR and as such was able to garner the cult of Steve Jobs. Not that there is anything wrong with this; every company needs a great PR man and he certainly proved that point when he managed to rescue Apple from almost certain destruction. However, he was also noted for being extremely hard to work for. Basically you didn’t want to annoy him or you would feel his shoe tips on your tonsils.
While being a master of PR, a lot of people believed he actually designed the iPhone, iPad and various other products. The truth is that he did not have a technical bone in his body. All of the technical work was left up to other people, Steve just managed to take the credit for it. It wasn’t his entire fault of course; a lot of people just came to that conclusion themselves.
One of Steve Jobs' greatest failings when compared to Bill Gates, however, has to be that of his stinginess when it came to philanthropy. One of his first actions when he came back to Apple in 1996 was to stop all of their charitable programs. While claiming to be a Buddhist he was really just a businessman. Even when he became a billionaire in his own right, he was never noted for giving substantial amounts of money to charity. During his tenure, Apple never became a massively philanthropic company despite being the most successful company in the U.S.
Why are there no points for charity?
Compare this to Bill Gates. He may not have been a master of PR while he was in charge of Microsoft, however, he was one of the main programmers in the company until 1989. He designed most of the early software which the company created, and once he removed himself from the actual production stage; he was always involved in the technical side of projects in some way. People didn’t have to delude themselves into believing he was involved in the design because he was. In fact he was one of the most talented programmers Harvard has ever had.
Of course Bill Gates was also noted for being a bit of a ‘hard ass’ to work for at times, however, he never received the amount of criticism which Steve Jobs did. So while it was not a picnic working for Bill Gates it seems that it was certainly more pleasant than working for Apple.
Bill Gates' most impressive attribute has to be his Philanthropic work. He and his wife have already given more than $26 Billion to charity and they plan on continuing this trend. He is extremely involved with trying to wipe out diseases such as Polio in Africa. Mostly focusing on problems which governments are not focusing on at the moment. Perhaps one of his biggest contributions is the so called ‘Giving Pledge’. Targeted mainly at Billionaires, it is a non-contractual pledge to give at least half your wealth to charity over the course of your life, or after you die. Bill Gates and his wife have already pledged to give 95% of their wealth to charity. Given his massive wealth, currently standing at just under $100 Billion; the amount of help and research which could be performed into disease vaccination could make a huge difference. If you combine this with the many other Billionaires such as Mark Zuckerberg and Sir Richard Branson who have signed up; Bill Gates has made a serious difference to charity. Notably, Steve Jobs who was worth $11 Billion dollars when he died, did not sign up to the pledge, nor did his family, to whom he left all of his money.
While I am not demonising Steve Jobs for not leaving his money to charity, being a PR man or a harsh boss. I mean who knows how I would be if I was in his situation. I merely think that Bill Gates has had quite a harsh time considering all of the good he seems to have done in the world.