Steve Jobs: iPad Makes PCs Look Like Big, Dumb Trucks. Flash the New Floppy

Here at D8 Steve Jobs had a no-holds-barred inerview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, and there were plenty of gems. How about that the iPad and tablets are in the process of making traditional PCs the modern-day equivalent of big trucks that no one really needs? (Heavy, inefficient, overkill.) Jobs also likened Flash to the floppy disc and other technologies that have gone the way of the dodo, emphasizing that Apple chose HTML5 because the company consistently makes bets on technologies that are in their “spring” and show the most potential.

Jobs also said that Apple was open to having the iPhone on other U.S. carriers, but he wouldn’t give a timetable. Interestingly Jobs said that the company started working on the iPad before the iPhone (or at least a large multitouch interface) and then switched gears to do the phone first before coming back to its larger device. But there were a lot of other highlights you don’t want to miss, including Jobs take on Google, the state of TV, and that “lost” next-gen iPhone. Check out the best parts of this wide-ranging conversation below, as well as video highlights.

On Passing Microsoft in Market Value: Jobs said it was surreal but not important. Apple was 90 days away from going bankrupt. was much worse than I thought when I went back. Actually asked people why are you still here. And answer was because I bleed in 6 colors.

On Choosing HTML5 over Flash: We try to pick things that are in their springs. Didn’t want to spread themselves too thin. Used 3.5-inch floppy disk as an example. Also first to get rid of serial port and parallel port. So Flash had its day but it’s starting to wane. Jobs said 25 percent of video no available in HTML 5 and it’s moving to 50 percent quickly. There are holes in some websites but they’re getting plugged real fast.

We have 200,000 apps. Adobe raised a stink about it. Not us. We just decided not to use one of their products in our platform. We were trying to be professional about it. We don’t think this is part of what makes a great product and are willing to take the heat. Customers are paying us to make those choices. And it’s going pretty well so far. We’re selling an iPad every 3 seconds.

On the Lost/Stolen iPhone: We need to carry and test phones out. There’s debate as to whether it was left in the bar or stolen from his bag. They called Engadget and Gizmodo. Person tried to activate it by plugging it into his roomate’s computer. She is the one who called the police, because she didn’t want to be implicated. Police wanted to grab some stuff before it disappeared. They should make a movie out of it. DA is taking great pains to make sure only stuff being searched is relevant to case.

On the Foxconn Controversy: We are on top of it. We’re all over this. Foxconn is not a sweat shop. But he says it’s very troubling and Apple is trying to figure out it can help. Many employees are unprepared to leave home and very young. We’re trying to understand right now before we try to offer a solution.

On Platform Wars and Google: We never saw ourselves as being in platform war with Microsoft and maybe that’s why we lost. We just tried to make the best products possible. That’s how we still think about it. Google decided to compete with us so they are. Chrome OS is not really big yet. Chrome is based on the work that we’ve done at Apple with WebKit.

If you look at smart phone market share. Nokia is No. 1. RIM is No. 2. We’re No. 3. Andorid is 4. And then there’s other. We’re not going to remove things like Google Maps. We’re about making better products. Just because we’re competing with someone doesn’t mean we have to be rude. We have no plans to go into the search business. Other people do it well.

On AT&T: iPhone was the first phone where we could define it and not have the carrier control it. We were able to change the rules of the game. As for AT&T’s involvement and network issues, Jobs said they meet with AT&T once a quarter. Biggest problem is getting equipment out of suppliers so they can build out the network. It’s improving but not rapidly. Convinced that any other network would have the same problems.

There might be to an advantage to moving to more than one carrier. When asked when Jobs said the future is long.

On the Genesis of the iPad: We tried to re-imagine the tablet. What we’re doing is completely different. Microsoft’s Tablet PC had the weight of a PC, battery life of a PC. Needed the precision of a finger, while a finger is much cruder. So we build a very different animal. (Apple started on a tablet before the iPhone!) Asked our folks to work on a prototype display. This was in early 2000s. After a few weeks had inertial scrolling. When he saw it he shelved the tablet project and were looking at phones at the time so we prioritized that.

On Whether People Will Pay for Content: We need editorial more than ever. Don’t want to see America descend into a nation of bloggers. Ouch. Wants to help news gatherers find new ways to tell stories. Trick is getting people to pay for hard-earned content. I don’t know what’s going to work, but the biggest lesson Apple has learned is to price it aggressively and then sell it in volume. Since you don’t have the expense of delivery, print.

So why did prices for books go up for iPad vs. Amazon? Jobs says prices will fluctuate.

Is the tablet going to replace the laptop? PCs are going to be like trucks. Going to be used by fewer and fewer people. This transition is going to make people uneasy. When you start to enter the post PC era it’s going to make people uncomfortable. We’ve embarked on that. Doesn’t know when it’s going to happen. But the transition has essentially begun. People have mocked me for using the word magical to describe the iPad, but you have more intimate relationship with content. Something has been stripped away. It’s like the Claritin commercial (where you strip that film away). We’re just scratching the surface when it comes to apps.

I think people can create a lot of content on it. Your vision would have to be fairly short to say these things won’t be able to handle things like editing video, graphics arts, music. All of these content creation things.

Is there a downside to acquiring too much power and saying no to things like political cartoons? We have two platforms and HTML5 is wide open. Completely uncontrolled. And App Store is curated. Most vital app community on any platform. It’s a bunch of people that are doing their best. And we have a few rules, like it can’t break by using public APIs only. We approve 95 percent apps we receive every week (within 7 days). We had a rule where you can’t defame other people. Political cartoons got caught in that. It was an unintended consequence. We are guilty as charged of making mistakes and we’re doing the best we can. Changing the rules when it makes sense. Problem is that some people lie.

What is your day like? I have one of the best jobs in the world. I get to hang around the most wonderful and brightest and most committed people. We get to play in a sandbox and create great products. Apple is an incredibly collaborative company. We have no committees. Tremendous teamwork at the top of the company. Trust very important. Great at figuring out how to divide things up. What I do all day is meet with teams of people and discuss ideas. We have wonderful arguments. Have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. I also contribute ideas.

What is the next 10 years of your life going to be about? When this thing with Gizmodo happened, a lot of people told me to just let it slide. You don’t want the PR. I thought deeply about this. I concluded that would be the worst thing that could possibly happen. I can’t do that. I would rather quit. We have the same values now that we had then. We come into work wanting to do the same thing today or 5-10 years ago, trying to make great products. Nothing makes my day more then getting e-mail from iPad owner that it’s the coolest thing they’ve bought.

On why Apple is doing iAds: We’re going into the ad business to help developers deliver l0w-cost or free apps. And reason why we’re doing it because other solutions suck. Banners just rip you out of your app. Jobs saying that mobile apps can take over screen and take you right back where you left off. We can build it in the OS.

On privacy: Not as big an issue if you let people know what you’re going to do with their data.

On HDCP and problems with DRM and video: During Q&A session Jobs said that content providers are making the rules. I feel your pain, he said to a woman who complained that she couldn’t output movie from iPad to TV because of lame restrictions.

On the state of TV: No one willing to buy a set-top box. Ask Google in a few months. Problem is that you end with table full of remotes. Need to go back to square one and need to redesign it from scratch. (Is Steve Jobs saying that Apple will make a TV?) TV is going to lose until there is a viable go-to-market strategy. It’s not a problem with technology or vision.

For in-depth coverage go to

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  1. Geo Says:

    >>>Jobs saying that mobile apps can take over screen and take you right back where you left off. We can build it in the OS.

    Oh boy, I bet we all can’t wait for THAT. :p Interesting comments, esp. on the Gizmodo debacle.

  2. TinkerTenor Says:

    Some valid points mixed in with a *truck*load of arrogance and self-righteousness. I used to like Jobs until he started talking more, and his analogies betray a scary lack of contact with reality. There are many things which come to mind that you simply need a truck for, that cannot be accomplished with a golf cart. Claritin doesn’t work. Steve lives in a dream world. As I tap this in on my iPhone I am missing out on content in 2 places on the page…so I guess that means the arrogance is getting in the way of best serving the customer. It’s hard to tell though since I don’t know what I’m missing. I dont know, maybe if I could watch that interview video I’d think different(ly).

  3. SickOfIt Says:

    I am “I totally agree: I used to like Jobs until he started talking.

    I still like Apple, but my 3GS is going to Ebay and I am getting into Android with the EVO. My tablet will be an Android, too.

    I like Flash content, and HTML5 is nowhere near a total replacement for Flash. Jobs knows very well that Flash is much more than video, but continues defining the subject as “video.” Total BS. With every mobile platform getting Flash this year, the iPhone and the iPad will soon be the only ones without this basic capability.

    Hello, Android :)

  4. Nunuvyer Bizniz Says:

    Mr. Jobs never called trucks “Dumb.” The headline is misleading and inflammatory. All he said is that most people don’t need to drive a truck every day for most things they do. Try stopping the knee jerk hate long enough to learn from a man who is much smarter than you will ever be.

  5. Mark Spoonauer Says:

    Point taken but headline doesn’t have quote marks for a reason. And Jobs basically says PC is on the way out. “When you start to enter the post PC era it’s going to make people uncomfortable. We’ve embarked on that.” Also, I don’t pretend to be smarter but appreciate your knee-jerk reaction.

  6. Corinn Says:

    Steve Jobs is 98% of the reason I hate Apple.

    @Nunuvyer Bizniz: You can hate Jobs and his general insanity without hating Apple’s hardware. Personally I love the iPhone 4’s design and what’s under the hood, the only reason it isn’t a serious contender for my next phone is not Apple’s fault, but AT&T’s.

    I like the iPod line and its derivatives. I think Apple computers are overpriced and underpowered. I loathe the “walled garden” ideal, no matter who is behind it (I’m looking at you, Microsoft and the Zune). I think Apple’s business practices are ludicrous and most of what comes out of Jobs’ mouth is hilariously offensive and I wonder just how the hell he manages to keep *any* business while constantly badmouthing his own effing customers.

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