At last week’s AllThingsDigital conference, sponsored by the Wall Street Journal, both Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer were front and center, on different days. Unlike that famous joint appearance between Jobs and Bill Gates, the sponsors of this year’s event opted for separate sessions. Or maybe Jobs and Ballmer wanted it that way.
Regardless, in looking over the transcripts from the two events, you could get a pretty good idea of someone who is in total control of his business affairs and one who is cracking at the seams.
This doesn’t mean that you should take everything Jobs said as gospel. His pronouncements, however sincere he might seem, are surely self-serving. He isn’t going to do anything that materially impacts Apple’s bottom line, although it’s refreshing to hear him explain why the company he co-founded picks and chooses which markets to enter so carefully.
One of the most significant things to come out of his comments is that Apple cannot be all things to all people. Their vertically integrated, tightly controlled ecosystem may not appeal to some of you who prefer a more “open” environment. This isn’t to say that Apple is really that restrictive, but the entire approach remains controversial.