Facebook’s so-called “pivot to privacy” has elicited a number of reactions. One of the more incisive ones comes from Kara Swisher. In a New York Times Sunday review column, Ms. Swisher compared Facebook’s attempts to bolster private messaging, in direct competition with Snapchat, to the battle between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. In that case, Mr. Jobs’s “stunning creativity” eventually “won out.” This time, the size of Facebook may mean Mr. Zuckerberg can make a success of the Snapchat model. If he really means it.
Mr. Zuckerberg is to Bill Gates as Mr. Spiegel is to Steve Jobs. Mr. Jobs always had better ideas and vision than Mr. Gates. But Apple spent a long time in dire straits while he pushed his high-level concepts about security, privacy, and design and simplicity. Mr. Gates, on the other hand, was an unqualified genius at business models and systems, and he clearly understood the depressing truth that good enough was good enough for a lot of consumers.