Steve Jobs’ Foot-In-Mouth Disease

Normally senior executives measure their words when talking about stuff that their companies are working on in secret. They are especially careful not to say negative things about a rival’s product or technology when they are working on something along the same lines. Looks like Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, is not that kind of a person and has absolutely no problem making himself and his customers look stupid.

Today I came across this article on CNN.com. Apparently, during a 2008 earnings call, Jobs said that Apple could not make a $500 computer that is not a “piece of junk”. This January, Apple came out with the $499 iPad, their answer to the netbook. Now since the netbook is actually a computer (I have successfully managed to install and use SolidWorks 2010 on my Dell Inspiron Mini 10v, among a host of other CAD systems), I am beginning to wonder whether Apple has finally been able to create a piece of junk. Either that or Apple does not consider the iPad to be anything close to a computer.

Looks like Jobs has an uncanny habit of pissing on his competition and then dishing out the same piss to his customers. In 2008 he had this to say about Amazon’s Kindle, “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 any more.” And a year later he pulls out the iPad.

Hardware takes years to develop, test and get into production. When Jobs was making these statements, he knew exactly what his engineers were up to. So the next time Jobs pisses on something, that should serve as a good indication on the direction Apple is headed.

  • Then I hope the next thing he says is:

    “We'll never make iTunes reliable”

    Because it needs work!

  • cadguy

    Deelip – I think you got Jobs wrong.

    The kindle is only for reading books (black and white text).
    There are a group of serious readers who enjoy reading physical books (They read a lot – 10 to 20 books a year). This group has moved on to the kindle because its cheaper than physical books (break even point is 20-40 books).

    But the rest of folks on the internet is hooked on rich media i.e. magazines, blogs, videos, social networking. These people dont have the ability or focus to read a 300 page book and feel enriched. Apple wants to make serious money so they dont take the kindle route and instead create the iPad. Remember you can also read books on iPad but its harder on the eyes because of backlighting instead of e-ink. Perhaps future models of iPad will have the dual display technology like http://www.notionink.com/

    I think Jobs got it right with iPad.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with cadguy – I can not wait to get one. If I wanted a computer, I wouldn’t get an iPad and I don’t think Jobs fumbled or said anything out of line – but what I want is an alternative to magazines and newspapers that sit on my coffee table; just look at what wired has planned for it and you’ll see how this WILL change the industry as we know it.

      http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1813626064?bctid=66775419001

  • Cadguy,

    Jobs said that people don’t read books anymore. Period. So whether you give books to them in paper, on the black and white Kindle or on full color iPad, it makes no difference. Borrowing his own words, the whole concept the iBook App and the iBookStore is “flawed”.

    But if you ask him that today, he will say otherwise. You see, that's precisely what foot-in-mouth disease is all about.

  • ronfritz

    Deelip,

    Those are interesting quotes from Jobs. Knowing that he had products in development along these lines, I'd conjecture that these statements could be looked at as diversionary – like a magician tricking you to look elsewhere while he pulls a rabbit out of his hat. I think the most likely explanation is that he was trying to misdirect the competition so as not to see what Apple was (is) really up to. He's quite a character, that's for sure.

    Ron Fritz

  • Ron,

    Yes, that is a possibility. In fact, companies do such things. The difference is that they let someone in the company “leak” (mis)information to people who will spread the word around, not let the CEO shoot his mouth in public to be ridiculed later.

    If Jobs is a magician as you say, then I guess, by now, he needs new tricks. One such trick could be actually telling the truth. 😉

  • ronfritz

    Steve isn't known for holding his tongue, so perhaps he couldn't resist. You know how those CEO's can be! 😉

  • Ron, it just struck me. You and I are both CEO's. OK, I am the programmer, PR and support engineer as well 😉

  • Deelip, if you want a good MP3 player, get a Sony. I have both — iTouch and Sony Walkman.

    Sony has the best sound of any MP3 player I have used (close to ten, now), especially when paired with Sony headphones. I use headphone model MDF-EX32. Together, the sound is fabulous. I don't use my iTouch for music, since I dislike the sound it puts out.

    In addition, the Sony Walkmans have tactile buttons, so I can use it blind. A 16GB Sony now hovers around $100 here in Canada.

  • Norm C.

    The iPad may be Jobs's answer to the netbook, but it is NOT a computer. Rather an oversized iPhone. It runs the iPhone OS, thus no multitasking. It does'nt matter on a smart phone, but on a tablet?

    I'll pass. I'll wait for a real tablet PC, and one that does not try to control the content I want to put in it. Meanwhile my netbook does just fine… and runs Ubuntu. BTW I read ebooks on it and I don't find it hard on my eyes.

  • Jobs is known for saying one thing and later doing another. He said back when the iPod Photo came out that nobody would want to watch video on an iPod only to debut the iPod Video 8 months later.
    As far as the iPad, it is not a computer but a device that you have laying around in the family room to do internet stuff. I am compelled by the big touch screen but for a more sophisticated user like you or I, it might not be enough for our tinkering needs. I am more excited about developments like Chrome OS.
    Steve Jobs started the iPad debut with a hit on netbooks and say they don't do anything well but then try to position it as an entirely new category.
    This is one of those devices that will be made by the applications developed for it. If anything, it will get competition to develop devices that may be more capable.

  • fcsuper

    Yup, I agree. If you want to know what he will do next, pay attention to what he is dissing.

  • randallnewton

    Apple was “never” going to do a cell phone, until it did. Apple was “never” going to do an MP3 player, until it did. Apple was “never” going to do a tablet computer (again), until it did. It is how Jobs operates. The misdirection idea is spot on.

    Congrats on the Business Week link, Deelip.

  • Wow! He sounds like a rich jerk who doesn’t care about what he says. I think he has become very stuck up and just thinks that no matter what, his products will sell, which is probably true. BUT, he should be a bit nicer to his customers.. that’s just plain rude