Apple CEO Steve Jobs doesn't seem interested in revolutionizing TV the same way his company changed the mobile phone industry. But he is hopeful that newspapers will find a way to tap into iPad technology to keep the news flowing and keep us from becoming a nation that gets its news from bloggers.
Hey, should I be offended?
Apple's CEO spent 90 minutes Tuesday evening on the stage of the "D: All Things Digital" conference, kicking off the event, which is being held near Los Angeles this week. During the Q&A session, he tackled a lot of different topics - from the iPhone prototype that was lost/stolen and the back-and-forth battles with Adobe over Flash to his thoughts on AT&T's network and the competitive relationship with Google (Techmeme).
There was no news, of course. Jobs will be back on stage in less than a week to deliver a keynote address at his company's Worldwide Developers Forum in San Francisco. That's where everyone seems to expect the big iPhone announcement to take place.
But he did offer some insight into where tablet computing might be going and why television isn't necessarily the industry that he wants to tackle, something many of us had already figured out given the company's lack of love for its AppleTV product.
I wasn't in the audience at the D8 conference so my take on the event is based solely on what I've read in tweets, live blogs and other posts. What I've gathered from his comments about TV, it seems that until the set-top box can be blown up and re-launched with some sort of new user interface, there isn't room for yet another set-top box on the television.
He jabbed at companies like Roku and TiVo, which have tried to enhance the TV viewing experience with set-top boxes of their own - but really haven't gained much traction. He even jabbed at Google, which announced Google TV at the I/O developer's conference last month.
I don't know that I necessarily agree with Jobs' assessment of television's future, largely because consumers have shown that they can be receptive to new technologies if the companies providing them offer enough value. TiVo introduced a disruptive technology that people loved once they understood it. But it also made huge marketing and advertising missteps in its early years, as well as some poor partnership deals that forced into becoming a perpetually niche product while cable and satellite companies offered DVR technology in their own set-top boxes.
Google, on the other hand, recognized that consumers want to be able to watch all content on their living rooms screens - whether from a cable provider or hosted on the Web - and has come up with a multi-pronged approach that includes set-top boxes but also TVs themselves that would have its technology built in.
Newspapers, Jobs said, are in trouble and could make some money by bringing their content to platforms like the iPad - but they're going to have to get more aggressive about cutting their prices, going for volume and figuring out ways for people to pay for hard-earned content.
Asked if tablets could replace laptops, Jobs used the analogy of early automobiles. Trucks were the preferred vehicles because people needed them for their farms. But, over time, transportation evolved and people started to buy passenger cars. That didn't spell the end for trucks - it just fragmented the markets into different types of buyers. The same goes for the laptop/tablet game.
Finally, in terms of AT&T and its exclusive relationship for the iPhone in the U.S., Jobs offered no hints of a deal with other carriers in the future but did say that AT&T has the fastest 3G service in the nation and that's it's getting better - but that he also wishes it would get better faster.
So do we, Steve. So do we.
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