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kottke.org posts about Steve Jobs

Remembering Steve Jobs

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 06, 2011

I am incredibly sad this morning. Why am I, why are we, feeling this so intensely? I have some thoughts about that but not for now. For now, I’m just going to share some of the things I’ve been reading and watching about Jobs. And after that, I think I’m done here for the day and will move on to spend some time building my little thing that I’m trying to make insanely great.

The 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech. For me, the speech is better in text than in video.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

The iPhone announcement in 2007. I am with Dan Frommer on this one: this is Jobs at his absolute best. He was just so so excited about this thing that he and his team had created, so proud. His presentation is also a reminder of how revolutionary the iPhone was four years ago.

Part two is here.

Here’s to the crazy ones… Here’s a version of the famous Think Different commercial narrated by Steve Jobs…it never aired on TV.

Compare to the aired version with Richard Dreyfuss narrating.

Steven Levy on Jobs. Levy covered Apple and Jobs extensively for many years; his obit is a good one.

Jobs usually had little interest in public self-analysis, but every so often he’d drop a clue to what made him tick. Once he recalled for me some of the long summers of his youth. I’m a big believer in boredom,” he told me. Boredom allows one to indulge in curiosity, he explained, and “out of curiosity comes everything.” The man who popularized personal computers and smartphones — machines that would draw our attention like a flame attracts gnats — worried about the future of boredom. “All the [technology] stuff is wonderful, but having nothing to do can be wonderful, too.”

Steve Jobs’ grass-stained shoes. Damn you Gruber for making me tear up like that.

I like to think that in the run-up to his final keynote, Steve made time for a long, peaceful walk. Somewhere beautiful, where there are no footpaths and the grass grows thick. Hand-in-hand with his wife and family, the sun warm on their backs, smiles on their faces, love in their hearts, at peace with their fate.

Steve Jobs rainbow over Pixar. What does it mean?

Moments after news broke about Steve Jobs’ death, a rainbow popped out of the Pixar campus (taken with my iPhone 4). Rest in peace, Steve, and thank you.

Jobs testing Photo Booth filters. Perhaps these aren’t the best photos ever taken of Steve Jobs, but they are among my favorites.

Walt Mossberg remembers his friend. Among journalists, few knew Jobs as well as Mossberg; he shares his stories and tribute here.

I have no way of knowing how Steve talked to his team during Apple’s darkest days in 1997 and 1998, when the company was on the brink and he was forced to turn to archrival Microsoft for a rescue. He certainly had a nasty, mercurial side to him, and I expect that, then and later, it emerged inside the company and in dealings with partners and vendors, who tell believable stories about how hard he was to deal with.

But I can honestly say that, in my many conversations with him, the dominant tone he struck was optimism and certainty, both for Apple and for the digital revolution as a whole. Even when he was telling me about his struggles to get the music industry to let him sell digital songs, or griping about competitors, at least in my presence, his tone was always marked by patience and a long-term view. This may have been for my benefit, knowing that I was a journalist, but it was striking nonetheless.

At times in our conversations, when I would criticize the decisions of record labels or phone carriers, he’d surprise me by forcefully disagreeing, explaining how the world looked from their point of view, how hard their jobs were in a time of digital disruption, and how they would come around.

This quality was on display when Apple opened its first retail store. It happened to be in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, near my home. He conducted a press tour for journalists, as proud of the store as a father is of his first child. I commented that, surely, there’d only be a few stores, and asked what Apple knew about retailing.

He looked at me like I was crazy, said there’d be many, many stores, and that the company had spent a year tweaking the layout of the stores, using a mockup at a secret location. I teased him by asking if he, personally, despite his hard duties as CEO, had approved tiny details like the translucency of the glass and the color of the wood.

He said he had, of course.

4 Steve. Loved this tweet:

From now on, the “4S” is going to stand for, “For Steve.” #apple

Dada. Oh and this one from Neven Mrgan too:

Heartwarming/breaking: shortly following the news of Steve’s death, our daughter called me “dada” for the first time. It goes on.

The Computer That Changed My Life. Bryce Roberts shares the story of the first Apple computer he bought.

As I sat alone in my makeshift office in Sandy, UT I decided that I wanted to start fresh, all the way down to my operating system. It sounds funny now, but it was an important psychological move for me. I wanted the next level to look and feel different than what I’d experienced in the past in every possible way.

I fired up my Sony Viao and surfed over to Apple.com. I wasn’t an Apple fanboy. I’d never owned one of their machines. And that was the point.

I didn’t know if I would love it or even like it, but it was going to be different. And different was exactly how I wanted the next level to feel.

This is *exactly* why I bought an iBook in 2002 after a lifetime of Windows/DOS machines.

Statement from Bill Gates. It really says something about a person when once-bitter rivals become friends later in life.

For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.

Apple’s homepage. Pitch-perfect tribute. Archive here.

Brian Lam apologies to Steve Jobs for being an asshole. If you followed the whole Gizmodo/iPhone thing, this is worth a read.

I was on sabbatical when Jason got his hands on the iPhone prototype.

An hour after the story went live, the phone rang and the number was from Apple HQ. I figured it was someone from the PR team. It was not.

“Hi, this is Steve. I really want my phone back.”

He wasn’t demanding. He was asking. And he was charming and he was funny. I was half-naked, just getting back from surfing, but I managed to keep my shit together.

And from the kottke.org archives, the 60+ posts I’ve made over the years about Jobs.

RIP Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 05, 2011

Steve Jobs

Well, fuck. My condolences to his family.

Unicorns and wheels: Apple’s two types of products

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 05, 2011

A common reaction to Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 4S yesterday was disappointment…Mat Honan’s post at Gizmodo for instance.

I was hoping for something bold and interesting looking. The iPhone 4 was just that when it shipped. So too were the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G. If I’m going to buy a new phone, of course I want it to look new. Because of course we care about having novel designs. If we didn’t we’d all be lugging around some 10-inch thick brick with a 12 day battery life.

Mat’s is an understandable reaction. After I upgraded my iPhone, Macbook Pro, and OS X all at once two years ago, I wrote about Apple’s upgrade problem:

From a superficial perspective, my old MBP and new MBP felt exactly the same…same OS, same desktop wallpaper, same Dock, all my same files in their same folders, etc. Same deal with the iPhone except moreso…the iPhone is almost entirely software and that was nearly identical. And re: Snow Leopard, I haven’t noticed any changes at all aside from the aforementioned absent plug-ins.

So, just having paid thousands of dollars for new hardware and software, I have what feels like my same old stuff.

Deep down, when I stop to think about it, I know (or have otherwise convinced myself) that these purchases were worth it and that Apple’s ease of upgrade works almost exactly how it should. But my gut tells me that I’ve been ripped off. The “newness” cognitive jolt humans get is almost entirely absent.

For me, yesterday’s event, Apple’s continued success in innovation *and* business, and the recent CEO change provided a different perspective: that Apple makes two very complementary types of products and we should be excited about both types.

The first type of product is the most familiar and is exemplified by Steve Jobs: Apple makes magical products that shape entire industries and modify social structures in significant ways. These are the bold strokes that combine technology with design in a way that’s almost artistic: Apple II, Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. When they were introduced, these products were new and exciting and no one quite knew where those products were going to take us (Apple included). That’s what people want to see when they go to Apple events: Steve Jobs holding up a rainbow-hued unicorn that you can purchase for your very own.

The second type of product is less noticed and perhaps is best exemplified by Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook: identify products and services that work, continually refine them, innovate at the margins (the addition of Siri to the iPhone 4S is a good example of this), build interconnecting ecosystems around them, and put processes and infrastructure in place to produce ever more of these items at lower cost and higher profit. The wheel has been invented; now we’ll perfect it. This is where Apple is at with the iPhone now, a conceptually solved problem: people know what they are, what they’re used for, and Apple’s gonna knuckle down and crank out ever better/faster/smarter versions of them in the future. Many of Apple’s current products are like this, better than they have ever been, more popular than they have ever been, but there’s nothing magical about them anymore: iPhone 4S, iPod, OS X, iMacs, Macbooks, etc.

The exciting thing about this second type of product, for investors and consumers alike, is Apple is now expert at capturing their lightning in a bottle. ‘Twas not always so…Apple wasn’t able to properly capitalize on the success of the Macintosh and it almost killed the company. What Tim Cook ultimately held up at Apple’s event yesterday is a promise: there won’t be a return to the Apple of the 1990s, when the mighty Macintosh devolved into a flaky, slow, and (adding insult to injury) expensive klunker and they couldn’t decide on a future direction for their operating system (remember Copland?). There will be an iPhone 5 in the future and it will be better than the iPhone 4S in significant & meaningful ways but it will also *just work*. And while that might be a bit boring to Apple event watchers, this interconnected web of products is the thing that makes the continued development of the new and magical products possible.

Steve Jobs and Norman Foster

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 29, 2011

There’s been a lot written about Steve Jobs in the past week, a lot of it worthy of reading, but one piece you probably didn’t see is David Galbraith’s piece on Jobs’ similarity to architect Norman Foster. The essay is a bit all over the place, which replicates the experience of talking to David in person, but it’s littered with insight and goodness (ditto).

The answer is what might be called the sand pile model and it operated at Apple and Fosters, the boss sits independently from the structural hierarchy, to some extent, and can descend at random on a specific element at will. The boss maintains control of the overall house style by cleaning up the edges at the same time as having a vision for the whole, like trying to maintain a sand pile by scooping up the bits that fall off as it erodes in the wind. This is the hidden secret of design firms or prolific artists, the ones where journalists or historians agonize whether a change in design means some new direction when it just means that there was a slip up in maintaining the sand pile.

And I love this paragraph, which integrates Foster, Jobs, the Soviet Union, Porsche, Andy Warhol, Lady Gaga, and even an unspoken Coca-Cola into an extended analogy:

Perfecting the model of selling design that is compatible with big business, Foster simultaneously grew one of the largest architecture practices in the world while still winning awards for design excellence. The secret was to design buildings like the limited edition, invite only Porsches that Foster drove and fellow Porsche drivers would commission them. Jobs went further, however, he managed to create products that were designed like Porsches and made them available to everyone, via High Tech that transcended stylistic elements. An Apple product really was high technology and its form followed function, it went beyond the Porsche analogy by being truly fit for purpose in a way that a Porsche couldn’t, being a car designed for a speed that you weren’t allowed to drive. Silicon Valley capitalism had arguably delivered what the Soviets had dreamed of and failed, modernism for the masses. An iPhone really is the best phone you can buy at any price. To paraphrase Andy Warhol: Lady Gaga uses an iPhone, and just think, you can have an iPhone too. An iPhone is an iPhone and no amount of money can get you a better phone. This was what American modernism was about.

Steve Jobs resigns from Apple

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 24, 2011

From the press release:

I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

This can’t be good news regarding his health. I hope I’m wrong. Good luck, Steve…you’ve been a great inspiration to me.

In Next, the seeds of Apple

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 06, 2011

From 1990, a NY Times article on a new factory built by Next, the company Steve Jobs started after he left Apple. The more you learn about Next, the more you realize just how much Next DNA there is in the current incarnation of Apple. The story of Apple’s second coming could easily be written as the triumph of Next. This section from the middle of the article articulates perfectly Apple’s current approach to manufacturing:

Indeed, critics of Mr. Jobs, who is 35 years old, say he is wasting his money by building a factory at this point. With the small number of machines he is building today, it would have been cheaper simply to contract with other companies to assemble the computers, they say.

But Dr. Piszczalski said the initial high investment in an automated factory may permit Next more control of its expenses while volumes are low.

And backers of Mr. Jobs note that he has a long-term strategy in which manufacturing makes sense. “Steve will be in business for the long pull,” said H. Ross Perot, one of Next’s investors. “He’s not in business for six months.”

Next’s products have yet to gain a significant share of the marketplace, but Mr. Jobs, who has a reputation for painstaking attention to detail and a passion for the importance of manufacturing, argues that by linking this flexible factory more closely than ever to Next’s research and development process, his company can gain a strategic advantage in the industry that will eventually pay off in larger sales.

In Mr. Jobs’s view, the factory testifies to the fact that the United States can still compete as both a low-cost and a world-class manufacturer when it sets its mind to the task.

Mr. Jobs said he modeled the factory after those of Japanese corporations like the Sony Corporation that have perfected a design-for-manufacturing strategy that transforms the factory floor into an extension of the company research and development center.

Update: Next made a documentary on how computers are made at the new factory.

That’s got to be a Hans Zimmer soundtrack, yes? (via @mgrdcm)

Apple’s new campus

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 08, 2011

I don’t really know why exactly, but I found Steve Jobs’ presentation to the Cupertino City Council about Apple’s proposed new campus fascinating.

Really smart and eco-friendly design. (via @daveg)

Profile of Steve Jobs from 1983

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 25, 2011

From the January 3, 1983 issue of Time magazine, an early mainstream profile of Steve Jobs.

He is 27 years old. He lives in Los Gates, Calif., and works 20 minutes away in Cupertino, a town of 34,000 that his company has so transformed that some San Franciscans, about 35 miles to the north, have taken to calling it Computertino. There is no doubt in any case that this is a company town, although the company, Apple, did not exist seven years ago. Now, Apple just closed its best year in business, racking up sales of $583 million. The company stock has a market value of $1.7 billion. Jobs, as founder of Apple, chairman of the board, media figurehead and all-purpose dynamo, owns about 7 million shares of that stock. His personal worth is on the balmy side of $210 million. But past the money, and the hype, and the fairy-tale success, Jobs has been the prime advanceman for the computer revolution. With his smooth sales pitch and a blind faith that would have been the envy of the early Christian martyrs, it is Steven Jobs, more than anyone, who kicked open the door and let the personal computer move in.

The article contains some really interesting stuff: perhaps the first mention of Jobs’ “reality-distortion field”, a prescient comment that Jobs “should be running Walt Disney”, and a description of Steve Wozniak as “a Steiff Teddy bear on a maintenance dose of marshmallows”.

Steve Jobs and “the bicycle for the mind”

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 15, 2010

I enjoyed this extensive interview with John Sculley about his time at Apple (he was CEO from 83-93) because of 1) his insight into Steve Jobs’ way of thinking, 2) his willingness to talk about his mistakes, and 3) his insights about business in general…he gives Jobs a lot of credit but Sculley is clearly no slouch. Some high points:

[Jobs] felt that the computer was going to change the world and it was going to become what he called “the bicycle for the mind.”

On the small size of teams actually building products:

Normally you will only see a handful of software engineers who are building an operating system. People think that it must be hundreds and hundreds working on an operating system. It really isn’t. It’s really just a small team of people. Think of it like the atelier of an artist.

Sculley was president of Pepsi before coming to Apple:

We did some research and we discovered that when people were going to serve soft drinks to a friend in their home, if they had Coca Cola in the fridge, they would go out to the kitchen, open the fridge, take out the Coke bottle, bring it out, put it on the table and pour a glass in front of their guests.

If it was a Pepsi, they would go out in to the kitchen, take it out of the fridge, open it, and pour it in a glass in the kitchen, and only bring the glass out. The point was people were embarrassed to have someone know that they were serving Pepsi. Maybe they would think it was Coke because Coke had a better perception. It was a better necktie. Steve was fascinated by that.

On why he should not have been hired as Apple’s CEO:

The reason why I said it was a mistake to have hired me as CEO was Steve always wanted to be CEO. It would have been much more honest if the board had said, “Let’s figure out a way for him to be CEO. You could focus on the stuff that you bring and he focuses on the stuff he brings.”

Remember, he was the chairman of the board, the largest shareholder and he ran the Macintosh division, so he was above me and below me.

After Jobs left, Sculley tried to run the company as Jobs would have:

All the design ideas were clearly Steve’s. The one who should really be given credit for all that stuff while I was there is really Steve. […] Unfortunately, I wasn’t as good at it as he was.

And finally, Sculley and Jobs probably haven’t spoken since Jobs left the company:

He won’t talk to me, so I don’t know.

Jobs is pulling a page from the Don Draper playbook here. In season two, Don tells mental hospital patient Peggy:

Peggy listen to me, get out of here and move forward. This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened.

Maybe Jobs is still pissed at Sculley and holds a grudge or whatever, but it seems more likely that looking backwards is something that Jobs simply doesn’t do. Move forward, Steve.

Think Different

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 03, 2010

One of the first things that Steve Jobs did after taking over as Apple’s interim CEO in 1997 is to get Apple back on track with their branding. In this short presentation from ‘97, Jobs talks about branding & Apple’s core values and introduces the Think Different campaign.

That might be one of the best five minute explanations of good branding out there. The campaign was very successful in rehabilitating Apple’s image with the press and public.

What’s interesting is how the iPad and iPhone advertisements focus almost entirely on the product. Apple no longer has to imply that their products are the best by showing you pictures of Albert Einstein and Amelia Earhart…they just show you the products and you know. But I don’t see Jobs doing a “fake it ‘til you make it” branding presentation anytime soon. :)

Woz and Jobs: phone phreaks

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 02, 2010

Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs talk about their short career building illegal telephone equipment, aka blue boxes.

Interesting how their two stories differ…the engineer and the marketer.

The city is a hypertext

posted by Tim Carmody   Aug 12, 2010

Steve Jobs recently compared the shift from desktop to mobile computers to the shift from trucks to cars. You could maybe say something similar about the future of physical books compared to other kinds of media. The older forms don’t go away, but they become more specialized, and the relationships between them become different, as our lifestyles change.

Again. You could argue that the arguments we have about the cognitive effect of reading for the web are largely a replay of the upheaval surrounding mass urbanization at the turn of the century. Continuing our Metropolis theme, pull up Georg Simmel’s 1903 essay “The Metropolis and Mental Life” [PDF]. (Simmel’s German word is “Grosstadt,” which literally means “big city”; Lang deliberately used the slightly stranger, Greek-derived word to make his city feel different.) Simmel saw big cities as a tremendous economic and informational engine that fundamentally transformed human personality:

Lasting impressions, the slightness in their differences, the habituated regularity of their course and contrasts between them, consume, so to speak, less mental energy than the rapid telescoping of changing images, pronounced differences within what is grasped at a single glance, and the unexpectedness of violent stimuli. To the extent that the metropolis creates these psychological conditions - with every crossing of the street, with the tempo and multiplicity of economic, occupational and social life - it creates in the sensory foundations of mental life, and in the degree of awareness necessitated by our organization as creatures dependent on differences, a deep contrast with the slower, more habitual, more smoothly flowing rhythm of the sensory-mental phase of small town and rural existence.

And cognitive scientists have actually begun empirically verifying Simmel’s armchair psychology. And whenever I read anything about the web rewiring our brains, foretelling immanent disaster, I’ve always thought, geez, people — we live in cities! Our species has evolved to survive in every climate and environment on dry land. Our brains can handle it!

But I thought of this again this morning when a 2008 Wilson Quarterly article about planner/engineer Hans Monderman, titled “The Traffic Guru,” popped up in my Twitter feed. (I can’t even remember where it came from. Who knows why older writing just begins to recirculate again? Without warning, it speaks to us more, or differently.)

The idea that made Monderman, who died of cancer in January at the age of 62, most famous is that traditional traffic safety infrastructure—warning signs, traffic lights, metal railings, curbs, painted lines, speed bumps, and so on—is not only often unnecessary, but can endanger those it is meant to protect…

Traffic engineers, in Monderman’s view, helped to rewrite [towns] with their signs and other devices. “In the past in our villages,” Monderman said, “you could read the street in the village as a good book.” Signs advertising a school crossing were unnecessary, because the presence of a school and children was obvious. “When you removed all the things that made people know where they were, what they were a part of, and when you changed it into a uniform world,” he argued, “then you have to explain things.”

In other words, information overload, and the substitution of knowledge for wisdom. Sound familiar?

I’ll just say I remain unconvinced. We’ve largely gotten rid of pop-up ads, flashing banners, and the <blink> tag on the web. I’m sure can trim back some of the extra text and lights in our towns and cities. We’re versatile creatures. Just give us time. Meanwhile, let’s read some more Simmel:

[These changes] reveal themselves as one of those great historical structures in which conflicting life-embracing currents find themselves with equal legitimacy. Because of this, however, regardless of whether we are sympathetic or antipathetic with their individual expressions, they transcend the sphere in which a judge-like attitude on our part is appropriate. To the extent that such forces have been integrated, with the fleeting existence of a single cell, into the root as well as the crown of the totality of historical life to which we belong - it is our task not to complain or to condone but only to understand.

Three ways of looking at Steve Jobs (Best of Kottke)

posted by Tim Carmody   Aug 10, 2010

This Best of Kottke post was easy, because I wanted to write something about Steve Jobs over the years anyways. The kickoff is Jason’s link to a 1995 interview with Jobs for Smithsonian Magazine. It’s mostly reflective, talking about his childhood, his history with Apple and early history with NEXT and Pixar. Toy Story hadn’t come out yet, and it’s fascinating to read what could be his bluster about what the movie and company were going to do, which of course turned out to be totally true. He’s also absolutely thrilled with what NEXT was doing with graphical user interface and networked computers. Windows 95 came out four months later.

It’s a sharp contrast with his interview the next year for Wired, which is mostly about the future of computing. He’s devastated and angry about Windows, but incredibly enthusiastic about the open web.

The desktop computer industry is dead. Innovation has virtually ceased. Microsoft dominates with very little innovation. That’s over. Apple lost. The desktop market has entered the dark ages, and it’s going to be in the dark ages for the next 10 years, or certainly for the rest of this decade.

It’s like when IBM drove a lot of innovation out of the computer industry before the microprocessor came along. Eventually, Microsoft will crumble because of complacency, and maybe some new things will grow. But until that happens, until there’s some fundamental technology shift, it’s just over.

The most exciting things happening today are objects and the Web. The Web is exciting for two reasons. One, it’s ubiquitous. There will be Web dial tone everywhere. And anything that’s ubiquitous gets interesting. Two, I don’t think Microsoft will figure out a way to own it. There’s going to be a lot more innovation, and that will create a place where there isn’t this dark cloud of dominance.

He also has this crystal clear vision about how the web was going to move beyond simple publishing and would be used to do commerce and create marketplaces for physical and virtual goods — a vision, which, again, turned out to be exactly right.

Two common threads in both interviews: he hates teachers’ unions, and doesn’t think technology can do anything for education. You generally see a much more libertarian, pessimistic Jobs in both of these interviews than you do today. He talks about death a lot, even though he’s still young and healthy.

Finally, I’ll link to what’s still one of my favorite looks at the future of consumer technology, Jobs and Bill Gates’s 2007 joint interview at D5 with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. (Prologue - Full Video - Transcript) It’s long to watch, but so worth it. They joke and reminisce with each other, tell stories about the early days of the computer industry, and share ideas about where things are going. (Bill Gates’s first line: “First, I just want to say: I am not Fake Steve Jobs.”)

The iPhone (announced but not released) is hot as hell, but Apple is still a much smaller company than Microsoft. Vista’s just been released and is stumbling out of the gate. Gates, unlike Jobs, is incredibly invested in trying to do something in tech to help education, and Jobs (whose Apple now has a huge education market) is mostly silent.

It’s also painfully obvious in retrospect that Jobs is talking about the expansion of the iOS into the iPod Touch, iPad (and maybe beyond) while Gates is talking about the experiments in input recognition that played into Windows 7 and the new XBox Kinect. Neither of them have any real idea what to do with TVs, but Gates actually seems to be more visionary, in part because he can afford to be less coy. It’s great. I’ve probably rewatched it four times, and you’ve never seen it, and care about this stuff at all, you should catch it.

How to hold an Apple press conference

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 16, 2010

Apple is holding a press conference today, which will presumably address the antenna problems that few actual customers seem to be having on the still-selling-like-hotcakes iPhone 4. I have a number of sources at Apple and based on my conversations with them, here’s my prediction on how today’s event will play out:

Steve Jobs will come out on stage and will sit in front of a large olde tyme cash register. He will immediately begin taking questions from the assembled journalists and bloggers. As the first-question scrum begins, Jobs will start madly ringing up purchases on the very loud register while pointing to his ears, shaking his head, and shouting “gosh, I’m sorry I can’t hear you guys over the sound of the register”. This will continue for several minutes and then the press conference will be over.

Someone on Apple’s board suggested a more conventional press event but Jobs quickly wrote an email back saying that they were not going to “hold it that way”.

Can the human eye see individual pixels on iPhone 4?

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 10, 2010

Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy takes on Steve Jobs’ claim that iPhone 4’s pixels are too small for the human eye to see individually. I have confidence in Plait’s conclusions:

I know a thing or two about resolution as well, having spent a few years calibrating a camera on board Hubble.

He may as well have pulled Marshall McLuhan out from behind a movie poster.

Jobs’ keynote praise gets RSS reader pulled from App Store

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 08, 2010

Steve Jobs praised an iPad RSS reader called Pulse in his keynote yesterday. Then the NY Times complained about the app and Apple pulled it from the store later in the day.

The Pulse News Reader app, makes commercial use of the NYTimes.com and Boston.com RSS feeds, in violation of their Terms of Use*. Thus, the use of our content is unlicensed. The app also frames the NYTimes.com and Boston.com websites in violation of their respective Terms of Use.

Four things:

1. Why is there a comma after “The Pulse News Reader app” in the laywer’s note to Apple?
2. The very same NY Times ran a positive review of the very same Pulse a few days ago. Doh!
3. Seems like all the Pulse guys need to do is unbundle the NY Times feeds and open the actual nytimes.com pages into a generic browser window and all is good.
4. I wonder why the Times et al. haven’t complained about Instapaper yet. It might not technically infringe on copyright, but magazines and newspapers can’t be too happy about an app that strips out all the advertising from their articles…as much as we would all be sad to see it go.

Steve Jobs’ keynote at WWDC

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 07, 2010

At 1pm ET, Steve Jobs is scheduled to take the stage at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference and announce some new stuff. Rumored so far: iPhone 4.0, some kind of magic trackpad, Safari 5, and a new version of AppleTV.

Follow the keynote here in image+text format: Engadget, gdgt, Ars Technica, and the NY Times’ Bits blog.

Steve Jobs: Thoughts on Flash

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 29, 2010

A letter from Steve Jobs about why they don’t allow Flash on iPhones, iPods, and iPads. (Notice he specifically uses the harsher “allow” instead of the much softer “support”.)

Though the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad is proprietary, we strongly believe that all standards pertaining to the web should be open. Rather than use Flash, Apple has adopted HTML5, CSS and JavaScript — all open standards. Apple’s mobile devices all ship with high performance, low power implementations of these open standards. HTML5, the new web standard that has been adopted by Apple, Google and many others, lets web developers create advanced graphics, typography, animations and transitions without relying on third party browser plug-ins (like Flash). HTML5 is completely open and controlled by a standards committee, of which Apple is a member.

Jobs sort of circles around the main issue which is, from my own perspective as heavy web user and web developer: though Flash may have been necessary in the past to provide functionality in the browser that wasn’t possible using JS, HTML, and CSS, that is no longer the case. Those open web technologies have matured (or will in the near future) and can do most or even all of what is possible with Flash. For 95% of all cases, Flash is, or will soon be, obsolete because there is a better way to do it that’s more accessible, more open, and more “web-like”.

1993 Steve Jobs inverview about Paul Rand

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 16, 2010

Rand designed the NeXT logo for Jobs.

The September Issue

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 18, 2010

I straight-up loved this movie. It’s a fascinating look at the creative process of a team with strong leadership operating at a very high level. The trailer is pretty misleading in this respect…the main story in the film has little to do with fashion and should be instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever worked with a bunch of people on a project. Others have made the comparison of Anna Wintour with Steve Jobs and it seems apt. At several points in the film, my thoughts drifted to Jobs and Apple; Wintour seems like the same sort of creative leader as Jobs.

Apple “Moses Tablet” unveiling

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 27, 2010

As usual, several media outlets will bring you breathless coverage of Apple’s shiny new thing, in this case, some sort of tablet-y device/service. The event starts at 1pm ET; you can follow along on Ars Technica,
Engadget, gdgt, NY Times’ Bits blog, or Gizmodo (which is often irritating).

Steve Jobs’ liver transplant

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 20, 2009

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple’s Steve Jobs had a liver transplant operation done about two months ago. John Gruber has extensive coverage of Livergate; he thinks it was an Apple leak:

This must be a deliberate, timed leak from Apple. The timing is simply perfect from Apple’s perspective — midnight on the Friday of what appears to be the most successful new product launch in company history.

Whatever the case, get well soon, Steve.

Steve Jobs: still fine and ornery

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 05, 2009

A short letter from Steve Jobs reveals that he’s receiving treatment for a health problem and will continue as Apple’s CEO in full capacity for the foreseeable future. I love the last line:

So now I’ve said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this.

Steve Jobs: one more thing

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 11, 2008

A list of all the times that Steve Jobs has said, “just one more thing” at keynotes and product launches…aka this is the stuff that Apple thought would do well. Among the hits: original iMac, OS X, the iPod, and the iPhone. Only one real miss: the G4 Cube.

Also: did Jobs take that phrase from Columbo?

Update: The video version of “one more thing”. (thx, eric)

2008 WWDC Jobs keynote

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 09, 2008

What new brushed metal magic treats will Steve Jobs unveil this year at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference? Hover car? Neverlost keys? Orgasm pills? Electric pony? All that and more at 1pm ET….live blogging of Jobs’ keynote at MacRumors, Mac Observer, Engadget, and Ars Technica (which includes a spectacularly nerdy photo of Gizmodo’s Brian Lam and his liveblogging contraption). Let the games begin.

Update: Holy shit! Michael Sippey is on stage right now.

Update: Here’s some live streaming audio of the keynote. This feels like cheating. (thx, andy)

Update: New iPhone announced with 3G, GPS, flush headphone jack (!!), thinner, cheaper, and better battery life. Price: $199 for 8 gig iPhone. $299 for 16 gig. Available in white.

Update: This is an interesting tech tidbit about how Apple fit all of those protocols into the phone:

iPhone 3G delivers UMTS, HSDPA, GSM, Wi-Fi, EDGE, GPS, and Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR in one compact device - using only two antennas. Clever iPhone engineering integrates those antennas into a few unexpected places: the metal ring around the camera, the audio jack, the metal screen bezel, and the iPhone circuitry itself. And intelligent iPhone power management technology gives you up to 5 hours of talk time over 3G networks.

Steve Jobs, encouraging the conspiracy theory in all of us

posted by Deron Bauman   Mar 03, 2008

When Steve Jobs disregards a market segment — think mp3 players or cell phones — that sometimes means Apple is about to jump in and take over. When asked about Amazon’s Kindle a few months ago, Jobs said:

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

Of course, that set off speculation that Apple was about to do just that, integrate a book reader into a series of portable internet devices.

It’s speculation like this that feeds the conspiracy theory in all of us. Being an Apple fan is like that — except once every few product cycles the conspiracy actually plays out.

What if you traded Apple stock around

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 31, 2007

What if you traded Apple stock around Steve Jobs’ January Macworld keynotes…would you make any money? Short answer is yes but buying Apple stock 10 years ago and holding would have been the better move. Also interesting is the market’s reaction to OS X and Jobs’ installment as CEO…Apple lost 7.3% of its market cap the day after the announcement.

Photo of Steve Jobs at his home

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 13, 2007

Photo of Steve Jobs at his home in 1982.

This was a very typical time. I was single. All you needed was a cup of tea, a light, and your stereo, you know, and that’s what I had.

This was right in the thick of Lisa/Macintosh development; I bet Jobs didn’t spend a whole lot of time at home. Note: there’s some bad Exif data that prevents the display of this photo in Safari (ironic, eh?)…try Firefox instead. (thx, mark)

Update: Exif data fixed, Safari away.

Video of a Charlie Rose interview with

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 14, 2007

Video of a Charlie Rose interview with Pixar’s John Lasseter and Steve Jobs. This was about a year after Toy Story had been released and a few months before Apple bought Jobs’ NeXT.

In the battle of Steve Jobs (CEO

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 02, 2007

In the battle of Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple) vs. Steve Jobs (former CEO of Pixar and current Disney Board member), Steve Jobs (Apple) was the clear winner. Apple sold an estimated 500,000 iPhones this weekend — grossing somewhere between $250 million and $300 million — while Pixar’s Ratatouille grossed $47.2 million.

Update: Some more interesting iPhone statistics, including Apple’s stock price increase since the iPhone was announced ($32 billion increase in market cap) and that iPhone was mentioned in 1.25% of all blogs posts over the weekend. (thx, thor)

Update: Apple’s stock price went down this morning in heavy trading. I guess Wall Street wasn’t so over the moon for the iPhone?