Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Greatest Diss Yet

The competition among Microsoft, Google and Apple is fun to watch because not only are they three great competitors, and not only do we all end up with cool technology as a result, but because they are really expert at dissing one another.

Remember Steve Ballmer’s classic smackdown line regarding competing operating systems: "[Apple has] done a very good job of marketing to their 3.5 percent of the market.  I’m glad we’re doing a great job with the other 96.5 per cent.”

Or Bill Gates’ more gentle quip about Google, round about the time it was planning to launch, well, just about everything: “I hear they’re coming out with a robot that will cook hamburgers, too.”

How about Steve Jobs’ more recent response to Google’s Adroid: “We did not enter the search business.  They entered the phone business. . .This don’t be evil mantra: It’s a load of crap.”

And remember when Jobs first saw Microsoft’s Zune: “I've seen the demonstrations on the Internet about how you can find another person using a Zune and give them a song they can play three times. It takes forever. By the time you've gone through all that, the girl's got up and left!”

And how about when Google’s Eric Schmidt saw Microsoft’s Bing; he dismissed it as another search engine effort that Microsoft makes "every year." 

But my favorite affront thus far appeared this week when Tim Bray joined Google from Sun to focus on the Android operating system.  About Apple’s vision for the iPhone, Bray wrote: “It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers.”

Wow.  By my count he dissed Apple, Disney, masons, gardeners, lawyers and carnivores, all in one line.  Pretty darn impressive.    (Undoubtedly, too, “wall” was not meant to be taken literally for “masons,” but referred generally to anyone in the construction trades.)

Fear not.  This internecine warfare has been going on for decades among Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper, yet just the other day I saw all three in the same commercial, in the form of three delivery people removing high calorie soda from schools.  Nice.  And most of us would have thought that impossible a few years ago.

What worries me, of course, is that if technology convergence continues and we see Google, Apple and Microsoft in the same commercial one day, it’ll be all three logos sewn on the shirt of one person.  If and when that happens, we’ll be missing more than the occasional brilliant diss.