D8 interview; Steve Jobs unfiltered

Although I couldn't be there in person, I was hanging on every refresh of the liveblogs from Steve Jobs' interview tonight at the D8 conference. (Kudos to Engadget and AllThingsD for the coverage!
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor on

Although I couldn't be there in person, I was hanging on every refresh of the liveblogs from Steve Jobs' interview tonight at the D8 conference. (Kudos to Engadget and AllThingsD for the coverage!) If you haven't already, read the interview in its entirety.

Kara Swisher assured me that no conditions were places on Jobs' interviews and that nothing was off the table. As a result tonight's interview was insightful and will provide plenty of fodder in the five day run up to WWDC.

There are literally dozens of quotes by Apple's mercurial CEO that will be digested and dissected in the coming days, here are a few of my favorites.

(These are paraphrased only and not exact quotes)

On Flash:

Apple is a company that doesn't have the resources that everyone else has. We choose what tech horses to ride, we look for tech that has a future and is headed up. Different pieces of tech go in cycles... they have summer and then they go to the grave. If you choose wisely, you save yourself an enormous amount of work. Sometimes you have to pick the right horses. Flash looks like it had its day but it's waning, and HTML5 looks like it's coming up.

Wait, what?! $32B in cash isn't "resources?"

There's no smartphone shipping with Flash...

That's semantics, Google has been rolling out Android 2.2 to select Nexus One users (with Flash), and Friday Sprint ships the Evo 4G (with Flash).

On the Valleywag email exchange:

He never identified himself as a journalist. I was up late and working and this guy starts sending me obnoxious emails... and I wanted to straighten this guy out. I'm just enough of a sucker... and he publishes it!

On the Gizmodo iPhone 4 prototype saga:

There's an ongoing investigation. I can tell you what I do know, though. To make a product you need to test it. You have to carry them outside. One of our employees was carrying one. There's a debate about whether he left it in a bar, or it was stolen out of his bag. The person who found it tried to sell it, they called Engadget, they called Gizmodo.

The person who took the phone plugged it into his roommates computer. And this guy was trying to destroy evidence... and his roommate called the police. So this is a story that's amazing -- it's got theft, it's got buying stolen property, it's got extortion, I'm sure there's some sex in there (huge laughs)... the whole thing is very colorful. The DA is looking into it, and to my knowledge they have someone making sure they only see stuff that relates to this case. I don't know how it will end up.

On the Foxconn suicides:

We are on top of this. We look at everything at these companies. I can tell you a few things that we know. And we are all over this. Foxconn is not a sweatshop. It's a factory -- but my gosh, they have restaurants and movie theaters... but it's a factory. But they've had some suicides and attempted suicides -- and they have 400,000 people there. The rate is under what the US rate is, but it's still troubling.

On Microsoft:

We never saw ourselves in a platform war with MSFT, and maybe that's why we lost.

On Google:

They decided to compete with us... so they are. Well they decided to compete with us. We didn't go into the search business!

On Android:

Walt: So you just woke up one morning and heard about Android?

Steve: Kinda.

On Webkit:

Almost every modern browser is based on webkit... Nokia, Palm, Android, RIM has one... and of course ours. We've created a real competitor to IE. In the mobile space it's number 1.

On AT&T's network:

Remember, they're handling WAY MORE data traffic than all of their other competitors combined.

It really worries me to hear Jobs defend AT&T...

On iPhone carriers:

Kara: What about going to another carrier? Walt: Would there be advantages to having two in the US? Steve: There might be.

Ok, I'm feeling a little better about the iPhone coming to other carriers

On tablet computers:

I remember telling you I thought handwriting was the slowest input method ever. We reimagined the tablet, we didn't do what MSFT did. They had a totally different idea than us. And that drove everything. There tablet was based on a PC. It had the battery life, the weight, it needed a cursor like a PC. But the minute you throw a stylus out, you have the precision of a finger, you can't use a PC OS. You have to create it from scratch.

On how the iPad relates to magazines and papers:

Well I think the foundation of a free society is a free press. And we've seen what's happening to papers in the US right now. I think they're really important. I don't want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers.

I don't even know where to begin with this one. Jobs believes in a "free press" but sues and raids the homes of working journalists? He released the iPad to save traditional print media? Cue the double standards while I vomit on my Magic Mouse.

On content pricing:

I can tell you as one of the largest sellers of content on the internet to date -- price it aggressively and go for volume. That has worked for us. I'm trying to get the press to do the same thing. They need to do it differently than they do it for print. I think people are willing to pay for content. I believe it for music and video, and I believe it for the media.

Thankfully Mossberg challenged Jobs on this one:

Walt: But didn't your system drive prices of books upward? Isn't that opposite of what you just said?

Steve: Yeah... hmmm... well it's complicated. The market right now is way more responsive to consumer demand than it was six months ago. If consumers want it to be less, they'll be more responsive to those signals.

On the iPad as a notebook computer replacement:

When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks. But as people moved more towards urban centers, people started to get into cars. I think PCs are going to be like trucks. Less people will need them. And this is going to make some people uneasy.

Best analogy I've heard yet.

On the App Store:

Well let first say we have two platforms we support. One is open and uncontrolled -- that's HTML5. We support HTML5. We have the best support for it of anyone in the world. We then support a curated platform which is the app store. It is the most vital app community on any platform. How do we curate this? It's a bunch of people, and they come into work every day. We have a few rules: has to do what it's advertised to do, it has to not crash, it can't use private APIs. And those are the three biggest reasons we reject apps. But we approve 95% of all the apps that are submitted every week.

On Jobs' duties at Apple:

I have one of the best jobs in the world. I get to come in and work with some of the most brilliant people in the world. We play in the best sandbox. One of the keys to Apple is that Apple is an incredibly collaborative company. You know how many committees we have at Apple? Zero. We're organized like a startup. We're the biggest start up on the planet. We meet for 3 hours every morning and talk about all the business, about what's going on everywhere. We're great at figuring out how to divide things up into great teams, and we talk to each other. So what I do all day is meet with teams of people. To get great people is to let them have great ideas. I contribute ideas -- why would I be here if I didn't contribute them?

On Flurry, the analytics company that leaked information about prototype iPads inside Apple:

Well we learned this really interesting thing. Some company called Flurry had data on devices that we were using on our campus -- new devices. They were getting this info by getting developers to put software in their apps that sent info back to this company! So we went through the roof. It's violating our privacy policies, and it's pissing us off! So we said we're only going to allow analytics that don't give our device info -- only for the purpose of advertising.

That's just a taste, there's a ton more. I can't wait for the video clips to get posted.

What stood out most in your mind about the interview?

Photo: Engadget

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