Bill Gates: 'ereaders won't catch on'
ENGINEERS brought Bill Gates an ereader prototype in 1998 – but he dismissed it because it didn’t look like Windows.
Mr Gates also claimed the device was “unimportant”, because he thought the touchscreen device would never be able to compete with keyboards.
The news, featured in a report for Vanity Fair on Microsoft’s alleged “downfall”, means Microsoft missed out on being part of a market that is today worth £243million in the UK, and billions globally. Digital sales are growing rapidly, and now account for 8 per cent of the world market.
Mr Gates said the engineers should abandon the project and work on something else instead, while Microsoft engineers also dismissed the possibility of a ‘micro-messaging’ system such as Twitter.
The decisions have been compared to Decca Records rejection of the Beatles, although Mr Gates remains one of the richest men in the world.
In January 1962, the label's British executive, Dick Rowe, auditioned the Fab Four after being persuaded to listen to the group by their manager, Brian Epstein.
But after the band recorded 15 tracks, Mr Rowe famously told Epstein, "We don’t like their sound" and "guitar music is on the way out".
Instead, Decca opted to sign Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, who also auditioned that day. Mr Rowe would later say that both bands were good but, "We decided it was better to take the local group. We could work with them more easily and stay closer in touch as they came from Dagenham."
The Beatles, who had Pete Best on drums at the time, were said to be devastated by the rejection but the "Decca tapes" were good enough to persuade George Martin to meet the group. Shortly afterwards they signed for his Parlophone Records and in October of that year released their first single, Love Me Do.
Mr Gates, however, may not have been completely wrong – when Amazon launched the Kindle in 2007, it did feature a keyboard.