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Gates and Jobs rendezvous at CES

Updated: I've heard from a Microsoft official that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did not meet at CES in Las Vegas as purported in this post. I'm not sure how this error was introduced into my system, but I will investigate.
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Written by Dan Farber, Inactive on

Updated: I've heard from a Microsoft official that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did not meet at CES in Las Vegas as purported in this post. I'm not sure how this error was introduced into my system, but I will investigate. Bearing with me, follow along with the speculation below about what they might have discussed had they met last week in Las Vegas.

Apparently Bill Gates, Microsoft's founder and former chief software architect and Apple founder and master of everything "i" Steve Jobs had a secret rendezvous at the Las Vegas Convention Center last week during the Consumer Electronics Show.

Of course, as the ad campaign goes, what goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but that doesn't mean we can't speculate on their meeting.

Photo of Gates and Jobs at the D Conference, May 2007

Gates was in town for his traditional Sunday night keynote and video presentation, and Jobs was probably in town to bend telecom executives to his will. Perhaps the two were discussing old times or what political candidate to support in the upcoming Presidential election, but I doubt it. Or maybe Steve stopped by to drop off a 16-gigabyte iPhone for Bill, loaded with the Beatles catalog (we wish)--the "white" iPhone.

The discussion was likely more substantive. My friend Steve Gillmor speculates that as Gates fades into the board room and Jobs ascends to the throne of consumer electronics, the long-time rivals could be aligning their agendas in one key area:

This could be the shot heard 'round the Flash world, where the iPhone suddenly spouts multimedia wings courtesy of the Silverlight rich Internet application framework. After all, Gates has recently outlined the Microsoft strategy of multiple runtimes making it irrelevant whether Flash, Java FX, or Silverlight is the development platform. What better for Jobs' insistence on keeping the iPhone unclonable by the rest of the device world. Releasing a Silverlight API would keep the rest of the iPhone wannabees without bragging rights to the new iPhone/Touch rich browsing experience for just long enough to ensure a continued lead in applications and clout with carriers.

Why else would Gates and Jobs have such a secret meeting, nearly unreported by 140,000 potential citizen journalists with camera phones. And it ties in with the purported keynote leak, which suspiciously failed to contain the patented Steve Jobs "and just one more thing" before I end this keynote.

It's difficult to imagine, Jobs aligning with Microsoft, given the ongoing bear hug with Google. In fact, I would expect Jobs to come up with his own rich Internet application framework, working with Google. Nor is Apple running away from Adobe, even though Flash, and Java, have not made it into the iPhone.

Steve Gillmor views the absence of these two runtimes as support for his Apple/Microsoft Silverlight connection, and Apple viewing Adobe and Sun as competitors to be kept at bay. He claims that the Silverlight implementation for the Mac is not just an afterthought, but a framework for the next version of Office, which will not run on Flash.

Gillmor thinks that this could be "the beginning of a beautiful friendship" between the two middle-aging warriors.

Anyone else have an idea about what the two titans of tech might have discussed?

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