Apple certainly changed the music industry with the iPod and with the iTunes Music Store, which allowed customers to purchase individual songs at very low prices. Interestingly, a 2003 email from none other than Bill Gates shows that other industry executives were quite surprised by Apple’s entry into the music market.
As shared by the Twitter account @TechEmails, who publishes emails from executives at major tech companies, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates wrote an email to other Microsoft employees about how surprised he was with the capabilities from Steve Jobs regarding the iTunes Store.
In the email, which was sent on April 30, 2003, Gates points out how Jobs had the power to “get people with good user interfaces” to sell products and services as “amazing things.” The former Microsoft CEO suggests the company was in talks to have its own online music service, but Apple came out on top with the iTunes Store.
Gates was also curious how Steve Jobs managed to convince record companies to join the iTunes Store, as the idea of selling songs online instead of physical CDs at the time seemed quite controversial.
Steve Jobs’ ability to focus on the few things that matter, get people with decent UIs, and market things like breakthroughs are amazing things. This time, somehow, he applied his talents to get a better licensing deal than anyone else got for music. It is very strange to me. The music companies’ own operations provide a service which is very user friendly and has been consistently reviewed in this way.
The email also reveals that Microsoft had considered the idea of offering a subscription-based streaming service, but it was not sure that this was the best option due to the agreements ensuring that the songs would remain available to users. after a while. Gates tells his colleagues that the company has to “move fast to get something where UL and rights are this good” to catch up with the iTunes Store.
This particular email was first revealed in the Comes v. Microsoft in which the company was accused of monopoly practices as it dominated the PC industry with the Windows operating system and other proprietary software.
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