DUCK SOUP: Bill Gates -- The Secret To His Success

Bill Gates, the head honcho at Microsoft, is a lot richer than everyone reading this commentary put together and I've figured out his success secret. I'm even going to share it with you as a public service. This is the information age and I bet someone out there can use this information.Customer dissatisfaction.That's it. Beautiful, huh? Sort of a simple formula like E=MC squared, or "Divide and conquer." In an earlier era Barnum cleaned up on the coat tails of "Give the people what they want." Gates beat Barnum by adding the word, "Almost."For starters you will need dissatisfied customers. Naturally, there have been unhappy shoppers since the first king put himself on the first coin and said, "Heads I win, tails you lose -- yours." But today there is a huge and growing mob of malcontents hungry for satisfaction: computer owners. The computer is a unique consumer item because it is never quite as fast, efficient, or handy as the owner knows it could be, and it can be upgraded incrementally ad infinitum. For a small fee, of course.Sure, folks have always accessorized, adding earrings and a handbag or a pocket hankie to make a nice outfit better. Others have bought mag wheels, stuffed dice, headers and cherry bombs to jazz up their cars. Occasionally the purchaser was either unhappy or became jaded and looked for a new suit or a new auto. But the aim of jewellers and mag makers alike was to provide unqualified pleasure and when fashion changed no one ever tried to make a '57 Chevy look, sound or run like a '96 BMW.Not so with software. Software is so complex that both pleasure and pain can be built into every program. It is the striptease department of the marketing world. Just slip this CD ROM into your driver, baby, and we'll have a good time, sort of. This one will do almost everything you've ever dreamed of. Later, you can always upgrade.A recent PC World poll reported that 39% of Windows 95 users are unhappy with the new system. That's the good news. The bad news is that 61% are pleased. So almost two thirds will be out of the upgrade market for who knows how long. Compare that to Microsoft's latest version of Word for MacIntosh. It was jampacked with new features, all the slick tricks you want a word processor to do. With one voice Mac reviewers said, "Uck. Too big! Too slow! It ate all my RAM!" A loser right? No, a winner. Get it? Unhappy software customers are going to be repeat software customers. Everyone who bought Word 6.0 is a sure sucker for Word 7.As proof of my theory consider Apple computer. Why is Macintosh only the third largest selling brand of computer? The answer is obvious. With the highest rate of customer satisfaction in the industry they have a shortage of unhappy campers to target for repeat sales.Now I know you're thinking, "Great. He tells me to compete with Bill Gates and Intel to get rich. Fat chance."Well, the microchip industry is poised to change every consumer product in the next few years. They have already invaded lightbulbs, ski bindings, basketball shoes, pet collars, credit and greeting cards, even human bones. Smart toilets, children's clothing that can phone home, and tires with tiny silicon devices implanted in their treads are on the drawing boards. Packing cartons that self-open on command and condoms with built-in breakage alarms will shortly appear on the shelves. Soon customer dissatisfaction will spread out from computers into all the world. Think of the opportunity! You too can have millions of vaguely dissatisfied customers waiting for the next version of your widget, doodad or enchilada!I sincerely hope a majority of you are disappointed with this essay because, for a limited time, I am offering a special bonus. To order your Ultra High Speed Commentary Plus upgrade kit, send e-mail to .

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