“The Internet? We are not interested in it.” (Bill Gates, 1993)
“I see little commercial potential for the Internet for at least ten years.” (Bill Gates, 1994)
These two quotations are as bad as it gets in getting something wrong. Gates simply missed it. Nevertheless when he suddenly did get the Internet Microsoft responded quickly, eventually bringing down Netscape. He said in a speech at the University of Washington in 1998:
“Sometimes we do get taken by surprise. For example, when the Internet came along, we had it as a fifth or sixth priority. It wasn’t like somebody told me about it and I said, “I don’t know how to spell that.” I said, “Yeah, I’ve got that on my list, so I’m okay.” But there came a point when we realized it was happening faster and was a much deeper phenomenon than had been recognized in our strategy.”
“The obvious mathematical breakthrough would be development of an easy way to factor large prime numbers. (Bill Gates, in The Road Ahead, 1995)
Bill simply never knew, when he wrote it, that factoring large prime numbers is regarded as a possibly insoluble mathematical problem and, in fact, RSA PKI encryption is based on the theoretical insolubility of that problem. This quote appeared only in the hardback edition of Bill Gates’ book. It was corrected by the time the paperback emerged.
“If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1000 MPG.” (Bill Gates at COMDEX 1998)
This was just fatuous and quickly met with the response “Yeah but who wants a car that crashes every couple of hours”
“Two years from now, spam will be solved.” (Bill Gates, 2004)
This failure of foresight is forgivable. It was made before hackers assembled zombie networks for delivering spam. Gates believed that legal and technical measures that were being taken would strangle spam, but spam simply went underground.
“Understand that this is the last physical format there will ever be.” (Bill Gates, 2005 being interviewed about Blu-ray)
I’ve included this just to prove that Bill isn’t always wrong in his public quotes. If he was as wrong as often in private as he has been in public, he’d never have become the world’s richest man.
“We’ve done some good work, but all of these products become obsolete so fast… It will be some finite number of years, and I don’t know the number — before our doom comes.” (Bill Gates, 1997 in Forbes)
Now that we see Microsoft in graceful decline, it becomes obvious that Bill Gates is almost 100 percent right here. But there’s a nuance. It’s Microsoft’s business model rather than its products that are failing, and it’s failing because Microsoft chose to be a monopoly. In the Internet era, businesses began to treat monopoly software as a road block and route around it. This is what Bill Gates missed. The inevitable failure of a monopoly in a dynamic technology world.
The full list of IT Quotes postingsNone found.
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