Bill Gates, 1&#59; Scoble, 0

Bill Gates, 1&#59; Scoble, 0

Summary: When it comes to the question of whether we're in another bubble or not, I have to agree with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, not former "Microsoft chief blogger" Robert Scoble.

TOPICS: Microsoft

When it comes to the question of whether we're in another bubble or not, I have to agree with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, not former "Microsoft chief blogger" Robert Scoble.

The International Herald Tribune quoted Gates, speaking to a group of journalists in Brussels last Thursday, as saying: "We're back kind of in Internet-bubble era in terms of people thinking: 'O.K., traffic. We want traffic. We want traffic,' There are still some areas where it is unclear what's going to come out of that."

Scoble responded: "It’ll be interesting to see if Bill has the last laugh in this game. I usually don’t bet against him, but I am this time around. Why? Cause I think Microsoft will end up spending more to clone some of this stuff than its competitors paid. Yes, even YouTube. Tell me, how will Microsoft create a video service that gets talked about almost nightly on mainstream media?"

Yes, YouTube does get cited often. But lately, many of the citations are legal ones. I can't blame Microsoft for wanting to avoid that headache.

Scoble also says he sees differences between the 2001 bubble and the alleged, current-day one, including the fact that he has yet to see a stupid business model. I wish I could say the same.

Many Web 2.0 companies pitch me on a regular basis, attempting to get my attention by claiming they are poised to unseat Microsoft with their free/open/ad-supported products. I have yet to see any of them make a compelling case as to how they will best the Microsoft monopolists. As I've said before, I'm all for more competition, but I have yet to see the Web 2.0 wolf pack offer hope of any.

Microsoft isn't immune from attempting to cash on the Web 2.0 wave itself, as its ongoing Windows Live/Office Live/"What Else Can We Make Live?" campaigns prove. But while Microsoft's recent announcements of Photosynth and Virtual Earth 3D are both "cool," but nowhere near as important as Windows Vista RTM'ing or the .Net Framework 3.0 becoming available for download.

Fat-client and server software are not as hot as YouTube and Writely. But I hear that Gates & Co. want to bring sexy back to "shrink-wrapped" software. The real question is, can it (and should it) be done?

Topic: Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Totally agree

    As a reader of both blogs, I have to agree. There seems to be a gap between what the definition of s successful business model is in the Web 2.0 world compared to the real world. It's so easy to forget the everyday user that would never visit these sites. It's also painfully true that the type of the users that do use web 2.0 sites tend to be the kind that have managed to subconsciously filter out on-site advertising.
  • Agree

    I also agree to this one.
    Keith Knutsson
  • Now wait just a minute...

    So Gates is saying there is a "bubble", I tend to agree but then I ask myself, "If there is this big bubble that will burst, exactlly why is it Gates is saying we need more H1-B visas???
    • Because....

      If you're a company, like Microsoft, who tries to go for the best and the brightest (and they do despite what I'm sure a few hundred zealots would have you think otherwise), you cannot afford to limit yourself to the United States alone. The number of CS students is dropping rapidly while increasing in other countries. You go where you can find the best talent. Companies do want US citizens; it's cheaper and easier, but there are only so many good ones to go around.

      Same thing goes with foreign workers; there?s barely enough to go around. Remember the of H1Bs are split across every company throughout the country and these people generally know what they?re doing. Do you have any idea how hard it is for people to actually get one? They must have a degree (or be exceptionally skilled), pass interviews with the potential employer and the US consulate, compete with other workers in their own country due to the quota per country, and pay and get tested so their degree validated by a US university which takes several months.

      If you're annoyed about how many we need, how about trying to get kids interested in CS again, and then actually teaching them something!
      • Perhaps

        Companies should pay IT professionals that spend >=$40,000 on their educations more than your average Auto or HVAC mechanic, who spend on average less than 10,000 if any at all.

        You need to make a career field profitable for people to be interested in it.
        • Apple and Oranges

          Companies should pay IT professionals that spend >=$40,000 on their educations more than your average Auto or HVAC mechanic, who spend on average less than 10,000 if any at all.
          I am from the Automotive Field and have been in IT since 1993. I don't know where your statistics came from but I have a huge investment in my Automotive career. I would venture to say 5 to 7 times that of my IT Career. You forget 2 very important things. Automotive changes at an alarming rate. This requires the Technician to purchase highly advanced equipment just to stay profittable. I have meters that Cost $8000 to buy and $1200 per year to maintain. Not to mention the special tools required for basic wrenching. In any given year I spend upwards of $12000 in Equipment and 6 to 7 on education. IT doesn't even come close on cost but the profit margin already far exceeds the Automotive Field. However there are similarities between the 2 fields, in that there is very little talent to go around which in turn causes the Pay to slide down the scale for some and up for others. If you are worth your beans in either field you will get paid well. If you are worth your beans and your not getting paid properly there are other companies who pay for talent and they are plentiful.
  • For a Web 2.0 company to best M$....

    ...they need to get acquired by Google or Yahoo.
  • Scoble is biased; just wait for adbocker "3.0"

    Least anyone forget, Scoble left Microsoft for some Web 2.0ish podcasting thing. That doesn't exactly make him a neutral bystander.

    I'm still waiting for "adblocker 3.0" - a small utility that gives us back fast searching and honest results by blocking all the ads.

    Technologically, very simple.

    For Google, who's entire revenue is based on click ads, it would be devasting.

    For Microsoft, it would be a minor annoyance since ad-based revenue is still very small.

    For the Web 2.0 crowd, it would be a nuclear catastrophy since they have no real business except contrived content to trigger drive-by clicks of Google ads