Melinda Gates was recently interviewed in Vogue magazine and had some rather interesting things to say about her husband and the technology in her home.
According to Gates, both she and Bill have strict rules forbidding their children from having an iPod or iPhone.
"There are very few things that are on the banned list in our household," Gates tells Vogue. "But iPods and iPhones are two things we don't get for our kids."
But it gets better. Gates went on to say that there is an "inevitable lure of forbidden fruit" and "every now and then" she looks at her friends and says, "'Ooh, I wouldn't mind having that iPhone.'"
Of course, the blogosphere has erupted, adding fuel to the Bill Gates fire that might never extinguish. In fact, commentersfirst reporting on this story have delivered some interesting takes on the issue.
"That is kind of a pathetic insecurity that demonstrates just how little confidence Gates and wife have in the products that built their lives," a commenter named ewlech wrote.
In Gates' defense, commenter David Dudley writes, "I don't think it's a confidence issue, they just don't see a point in using their own cash to increase market share of a competitor. You certainly would not espouse Apple to use Dell servers in their internal infrastructure despite opinions of what is 'superior' or otherwise, right?"
The argument could rage for hours. But I don't think it's as difficult an issue as some might think. If I were Bill Gates and I had three children running around my mansion, I'd ban all Apple products, Nintendo consoles and handhelds, Linux, and every single Zune competitor. There's something to be said about family loyalty.
I don't think this is any different than kids being asked to root for their professional athlete father's sports team. Should Derek Jeter's future children root for the Boston Red Sox? Should Tiger Woods' two kids root for Phil Mickelson? Should Tom Coughlin's kids root for the New England Patriots? Of course not. They should stay loyal to their fathers and be a fan for whichever team their fathers are on. Period.
It's the same concept for Gates. He wants his kids to take sides, and by banning iPods and iPhones, he's ensuring that they grow accustomed to Microsoft products. And if he's smart, he'd ban the Wii, PlayStation 3, Android-based devices, the BlackBerry, Macs, Linux, Windows XP (Microsoft doesn't want anyone to use that anymore, just ask Ballmer), Google, Yahoo, and every other product from a competitor.
But he shouldn't stop at that. Gates should paint over all the windows in his home with the colors in the Microsoft logo, and each night before the kids go to bed, he should read them stories about his rise in the tech business. And once they turn 18 and are prepared to enter the real world, they need to perform their final rite of passage: buy an iPod from the Apple Store, bring it home, and throw it in the fire as their entire family watches. If they succeed, they are officially a Gates. If not, they'll need more intensive training.
Well, that's at least what I would do if I were Bill Gates. I mean, hey, why would I be willing to allow my children to be brainwashed with competing products? My kids are mine alone to brainwash. So I agree with Bill and Melinda. iPods, iPhones, Wiis, and Linux should be banned from the Gates home.