I think there is some truth to what Wright is saying here—everything that Jobs has ever done in his career has suggested that he loves great products more than market share. (Though I'm sure he's happier with both.) But I think there is another factor here worth considering.
The Microsoft approach harnessed positive feedback. The more models of Windows computers, competitively priced, the more people would buy Windows computers. And the more Windows computers people bought, the more programmers would write their software for Windows, not Apple. And the more Windows software there was, the more attractive Windows computers would be. And so on. That’s how Windows wound up with around 90 percent of the desktop operating system market.
With the iPhone, Jobs is again forgoing this positive feedback. He’s not licensing the operating system to other handset makers. There’s only one kind of iPhone — love it or leave it.
Meanwhile, Google is following a variant of the Microsoft strategy…. Why is Jobs choosing the same path that, last time around, kept him from conquering the world? I had puzzled over this for months until I had a conversation with tech-watcher Harry McCracken, who suggested a theory that seemed outlandish at first but is making more and more sense to me: Steve Jobs just isn’t bent on world domination.
I'm not so sure that Jobs thinks his Macintosh strategy failed. I think the way Jobs looks at it is this: he built a beautiful, revolutionary machine in the Macintosh, attracted incredible hype for it and passionate early adopters.And then he got fired.
I'm sure somewhere in Jobs' head he thinks that if he had been running Apple instead of John Sculley, the Mac could have out-innovated and out-marketed Microsoft through the late eighties and early nineties, and kept Windows from dominating the planet. In other words, it wasn't that Apple erred in following the closed platform strategy. They erred in that they had the wrong guy running the company. That may well be delusional, but the fact that AAPL now has a larger market cap than MSFT, twelve years after Jobs' return to Apple, has to give one pause. So in Jobs' mind, I suspect it's not that he's making the same mistake all over again. Instead, he's proving that his original decision wasn't a mistake in the first place.