Some relationships become competitive. And some have competitiveness at their core.
The latter surely was the case between Microsoft's Bill Gates and Apple's Steve Jobs. So no one could have imagined thatin Walter Isaacson's biography.
In an interview with ABC News, Gates says he's thoroughly and utterly cool with Jobs tossing zingers his way.
"None of that bothers me at all," he told ABC. He added a finely generic eulogy: "Steve Jobs did a fantastic job."
The thing is that, even in the Isaacson book, Gates offered flaming daggers of his own. He called Jobs "weirdly flawed as a human being." I thought it flattering that he included the "human being" part.
Jobs, in turn, told Isaacson of Gates: "He'd be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger." Yes, he'd have rather that Gates had been more like, well, him. He also accused Gates of "shamelessly ripping off other people's ideas."
Gates insisted to ABC News that wafting off to India was not, in fact, a prerequisite for entrepreneurial success. However, you couldn't get anywhere in life if you weren't good at math. (I exaggerate, but only by 0.04 per cent.)
Gates added of Jobs: "Over the course of the 30 years we worked together, you know, he said a lot of very nice things about me and he said a lot of tough things." Jobs was, indeed, mercurial.
Gates couldn't resist a little, well, Gatesian perspective. He would like to remind everyone just how much Jobs struggled in the face of Microsoft's pleasantly left-brained onslaught.
He explained: "He faced, several times at Apple, the fact that their products were so premium priced that they literally might not stay in the marketplace. So the fact that we were succeeding with high volume products, you know, including a range of prices, because of the way we worked with multiple companies, it's tough."
Critics of Microsoft might offer that Gates still rejoices in the idea that he simply muscled Jobs out of the market. But for Jobs, Microsoft stood for everything he most disdained-- not mass production in itself, but a mass lack of taste.
These were two men who simply thought differently., Gates was the epitome of what academics regard as "smart", while Jobs was pure ingeniousness.
You couldn't imagine them hanging at parties together. Or art galleries for that matter. Though they did-- once--.
In the end, though, both must have known that each secured victory within his own sphere of thinking. Gates dominated the left brains, while Jobs dominated the right.