Beefs aren’t just for Twitter and diss tracks—they’re alive and well in the tech world too. Even if you're thinking about chasing your entrepreneurial dreams like the innovators on Oxygen's upcoming show Quit Your Day Job (premieres March 10 at 10/9c), you can expect to find a nemesis along the way. The tech geniuses and powerful companies on our list certainly did. Here are 7 of the biggest tech beefs ever.
1. Apple vs. FBI
This one his happening right now, as you read this, and will likely be one of the most historical tech beefs to ever go down--specially if the FBI wins. The short story is that following the San Bernardino shooting in December last year, the FBI is trying to force Apple to develop software that would allow the FBI to break into shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone 5. Apple doesn’t want to do this at all, given that a huge part of their business is the promotion and protection of their customers’ privacy. If the FBI wins against Apple, the case could have huge repercussions for privacy.
2. Thomas Edison vs. George Westinghouse
Tech beefs are as old as, well, tech. When Thomas Edison developed the first practical use light bulb in 1879, he also identified issues with transmitting electricity across the US from D.C. without losing power. Working with Nikola Tesla to come up with an efficient solution for current distribution, they couldn’t come up with a viable means to deliver electricity before George Westinghouse, who was flush with money and resources, began undercutting Edison’s business. Westinghouse began installing AC generators across the country, faster than Edison could keep up. So Edison took it upon himself to show the lethal force that could be produced by AC generators to some reporters--and so the “battle of the currents” was born.
3. The Sharing Economy vs. Governments
Ever since the “sharing economy”—with companies like Uber and Airbnb--sprung up, governments and local businesses have been at odds with the tech boom. The “rule-breaking” business models of Uber and Airbnb have had to battle a succession of roadblocks from the governments in the states and countries they’re operating in. For instance, Uber has been banned by several states in India after a driver was accused of rape, while France is at odds with the company for failing to properly insure drivers. Meanwhile, Airbnb has been in a state of near constant scrutiny from New York, where the company’s home sharing service is directly at odds with hotel laws. Regardless, both are multi-billion dollar companies, so it’s clear who’s winning the beef in this case.
4. Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs
It wouldn’t be a list of tech beefs without including the rivalry between the two most important and influential tech bosses of this generation. Founded within a year of each other (Apple in 1976 and Microsoft in 1975), Gates and Jobs’ companies are natural enemies, and there was no love lost between the two since their inception. In 1995, Jobs accused Microsoft of making “really third-rate products,” while in 2010 Gates said, "There's nothing on the iPad I look at and say, 'Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it'." It’s a tale as old as time.
5. Playstation vs. XBox
This beef is more fan driven, but there’s always going to be rivalry between two leaders in the same field (think Edison/Westinghouse and Jobs/Gates). As if the two console brands didn’t have enough pitted against one another already (sales, functionality, game compatibility etc.) fans are rabid on both sides of the fence. South Park even dedicated a three episode story arc to the epic battle between Playstation and Xbox.
6. Apple vs. Google
The tech juggernaut hasn't just pissed off the FBI, but more than a few rival companies as well. When Google released Android OS, Steve Jobs decided it was a copy of Apple’s iOS and was not quiet about it. He apparently said, "I'm going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this ... I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong." Unfortunately for Jobs, the Google brand is just as strong as Apple’s.
7. Samsung vs. Apple
Apple is the Nicki Minaj of the tech world, that’s how many unapologetic beefs the company has. Samsung and Apple are actually business partners, but that doesn’t mean they don’t stick the knife in where they can. The two companies have been in a war over their phones since 2008, when Samsung released an ad captioned “Apple Eater” for their Instinct phone. Samsung continued to release ads dragging Apple and Apple users through 2011-12, so Apple would be understandably mad about it.
Four investors turn big ideas into big business on Oxygen’s new docuseries, Quit Your Day Job, premiering Wed., March 30 at 10/9c.