Jobs: Microsoft needs to make its own MP3 players

If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself. That's the tack Apple Computer has long taken, controlling both the hardware and software of nearly everything it makes.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has taken the approach that it can do the software, and if enough others are doing hardware, someone (or many someones) will get it right.

That approach has certainly paid off with Windows, but hasn't yet produced a winner in the portable music player business, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs suggests that it's not likely to do so.

"The problem is, the PC model doesn't work in the consumer electronics industry," Jobs said in an interview with Newsweek. "It just doesn't work. What's going to happen is that Microsoft is going to have to get into the hardware business of making MP3 players. This year. X-player, or whatever."

Microsoft's head honchos, meanwhile, say that the software maker must do more, but have suggested they are sticking by their approach.

"We do need a more consistent experience," CEO Steve Ballmer said in a January interview. "That doesn't mean it's bad to have a variety of devices. I think that's great. But there are some things we need to make sure are more consistently delivered across the portable devices."

Ballmer said that the company might come up with some hardware design ideas, but stopped well short of saying that Microsoft will get in the business of making devices.

"We do need to have greater simplicity in the way the devices work with the PC, and we'll work with our partners on that in a variety of ways, including where it's appropriate for reference designs," Ballmer said.

Meanwhile, there are some other interesting tidbits in the Newsweek interview with Jobs. The Apple chief notes that the MacBook Pro will have similar battery life to the Powerbook G4 and that Apple can continue its pace of new store openings for some time.

"We tend to build 30 to 40 stores a year," Jobs told the magazine. "We know we can control the quality that way, both in terms of the real estate selection and in terms of the build-outs. We have many years to go at that rate."

Tech Culture
About the author

    During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried has changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley. These days, most of her attention is focused on Microsoft. E-mail Ina.



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