Matt Yglesias asks

Even at the height of Microsoft’s power in the late-’90s, Windows 98 was oddly ugly. Surely the richest company on the planet could hire someone to design a better logo than this, right? Why were the default color combinations on Excel charts so wretched? Why didn’t anyone else bother to design power adaptors that look good?

The story I was telling well into the mid 2000s was that Steve Jobs thought computers should be easy to use and appealing to the eye. Bill Gates thought they should be cheaper than dirt. And, Bill Gates was right.

I think Felix Salmon is right about what really happened. The Gates strategy of a Model T in every garage was correct when the tech was new an expensive. You cut corners in every way possible, you do anything to push the price down. Send it out half baked, full of holes and ugly as hell, but just send it out cheap.

I think Bill Gates is still mostly right about software. Cheap rulz.

However, the price of hardware collapsed so fast that Jobs-esque hardware could be produced at prices people could easily afford. You could cut $40 off the price of the Ipad by just settling for something a bit uglier, but that wouldn’t really improve sales.

That’s also, why Apple has only been successful when the software was married to the hardware. To my knowledge no one is buying OS X to install on their own Linux box.

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