This, um, conversation (to use the word generously) is interesting. And I just wanted to pipe in on it myself.
Gruber starts off his piece quoting Larry Page from Google I/O as saying:
Every story I read about Google is ‘us versus some other company’ or some stupid thing, and I just don’t find that very interesting. We should be building great things that don’t exist. Being negative isn’t how we make progress. Most important things are not zero sum, there is a lot of opportunity out there.
And then proceeds to break down Page's argument with a quick and concise two-paragraph response. Fair enough. But the plot thickens when Ian Betteridge quotes Steve Jobs as saying:
“We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose,” Jobs said. “We have to embrace the notion that for Apple to win, Apple has to do a really good job. If others are going to help us, that’s great. Because we need all the help we can get. […] The era of setting this up as a competition between Apple and Microsoft is over.”
And then Betteridge turns Gruber's argument back on itself showing (at least in Batteridge's view) how Gruber holds Apple and Google to different standards. The comments from Betteridge's detractors all seem to be focused around zero-sum and how Jobs' quote needs to be placed in context. I think this is a red herring distracting us from Gruber's actual argument.
Everyone is comparing these two segments:
The era of setting this up as a competition between Apple and Microsoft is over.
Most important things are not zero sum, there is a lot of opportunity out there.
This is the wrong segment to focus on. No one is arguing that Jobs ever said any market is "zero-sum", or at least I'm not and I doubt John Gruber is either. I think the crux of the argument should be focus around these two segments:
We have to embrace the notion that for Apple to win, Apple has to do a really good job.
We should be building great things that don’t exist.
Apple collectively and Jobs specifically have never maid the claim that they single-handedly invented any market. Rather, they reinvented the personal music player (iPod), music purchase (iTunes Music Store), cell phone (iPhone), tablet (iPad), and, arguably, laptop design (MacBook Air) industries. Whereas Google is claiming to be making things never seen before. And if the essence of the argument is found where it ought to be, Gruber's commentary takes weight and Betteridge's falls flat.