Behind closed doors: Jobs on a Mac tablet and Apple cell phone

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple Computer chief executive Steve Jobs has never been keen on the concept of a tablet-based Mac but an Apple cell phone may be a completely different story, according to personal accounts from one of the company's former higher-ups published by the UK's Guardian on Thursday.



In the report, a 22-year Apple veteran and former national federal sales manager, David Sobotta, recounts a spring 2002 meeting in Cupertino where delegates from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) attempted to persuade Jobs to build a Mac tablet.



"Nine key NIH people attended the meeting, including its two highest-ranking technology officers," Sobotta wrote. "Setting up an executive briefing at Apple is a bizarre process that takes a couple of months; if you also want Steve to grace the briefing, add another six weeks to run a formal request up the chain of command, including just about every detail but the DNA of the people who want to meet him."



Even when Steve does show, Sobotta wrote, it's likely "he'll talk about whatever he has immersed himself in recently" and it "might not have anything to do with what the customer wants to hear." Then, of course, there are the horror stories of the Apple co-founder reprimanding customers to no end.



"Once, when renegotiating a Pixar distribution deal with Disney, he humiliated Disney's chief information officer in front of his staff," Sobotta wrote. "Steve pointed to a couple of recent Disney flops, and told the attendees that they could expect more of the same as long as the CIO was stupid enough to keep Macs out of the creative process."



But that spring 2002 meeting between NIH and Jobs was a bit different, he said. On that day, Jobs reportedly brought his brilliance and checked the arrogance at the door. And he responded to the NIH's requests for a Mac tablet with the "most impressive" answers Sobotta had ever heard him give.



"First, he said, the wireless bandwidth for huge images, plus the security needed to successfully do what NIH wanted, was just not on the horizon," the former Apple employee recalled. "Plus, tablets' screen resolution was nowhere near that required for NIH's high-quality medical images. Finally, any product designed to work in the medical field would attract significant liability. The hint was that Apple wasn't interested in anything with that kind of potential liability. That pretty well shut down the issue."



At the time, the NIH also reportedly had more than 2,000 BlackBerry users and wanted Apple to push RIM for better compatibility. "Tough: Steve basically said it was another niche product, and that while there would be convergence of computing and phones, the BlackBerry was not that product," Sobotta wrote. "He said the really converged, ubiquitous devices would have to fit in your shirt pocket, and be better than either a phone or a computer by itself."



Of course that was five years ago, and Sobotta is now "99 percent confident we will see an Apple phone, with enhanced music capabilities and maybe a few computing features such as email and contacts synchronisation with Macs or through .Mac."



"With a focus on simple mail and contact integration with its online .Mac (mac.com) service, Apple could provide advantages for early adopters while making its .Mac service better value (because it isn't right now)," he wrote.



For more on Jobs, a Mac tablet and iPhone prospects, check out the full version of the intriguing report over at the Guardian.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 50
    irelandireland Posts: 16,090member
    iPhone YES!!!
  • Reply 2 of 50
    Holy crap, the possibility of a Mac Tablet? Dare I say... iTablet? Hah, just kidding.

    I'm not even going to start the name wars for this little thing, but I personally love tablets.



    I only use 2 types computers, Macs and Tablet PCs. Lets just say my Tablet is gathering dust





    I'm just patiently waiting the iPhone, because its quite obvious its coming
  • Reply 3 of 50
    5 year old vertical market meetings as rumour now? Boy, are we getting testy about MWSF or what!
  • Reply 4 of 50
    screedscreed Posts: 1,077member
    Calling a CIO an idiot is not what I would label as "reprimanding customers". I'd call it "efficient management skills." You have to understand that the higher you go on the corporate ladder, the stupider the person... in general... for large organizations.



    I don't like Steve's style but I can certainly understand his distaste for clueless managers.



    As for Blackberry, "NIH ... wanted Apple to push RIM for better compatibility". Wha? Better compatibility? Maybe somebody should tell Research in Motion that OS X developer kits are really easy to get ahold of. Maybe NIH should have met with RIM instead to shit a few more Mac developer FTEs.



    Tablets are a neat concept but have a small, vertical markets and that's why I think Steve isn't all that interested... to a point. When the technology is ready to make a tablet that is light, lasts 8 hours on one charge, can be dropped-kicked without ill effect and cheap, then it'll be ready for grade school and college students. And that's a big, big market.
  • Reply 5 of 50
    [...] Bill Gates had launched one [tablet] the year before at CES in January [2002], boldly saying "within five years, I predict that it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America."

  • Reply 6 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AjayBot View Post


    Holy crap, the possibility of a Mac Tablet? Dare I say... iTablet? Hah, just kidding.

    I'm not even going to start the name wars for this little thing, but I personally love tablets.



    I only use 2 types computers, Macs and Tablet PCs. Lets just say my Tablet is gathering dust





    I'm just patiently waiting the iPhone, because its quite obvious its coming



    Why are you getting excited over the possibility of a Mac Tablet when the article indicates the opposite.
  • Reply 7 of 50
    IMAP IDLE will push out emails to any client supporting it and almost all phones from Nokia and SE support that now. Most of them are much better phones than Blackberrys too.



    Apple's mail server already supports IMAP IDLE as do most Linux boxes. In the corporate world though I guess it more depends on if Exchange supports IMAP IDLE, and if it doesn't, Microsoft are nuts as it's an industry standard that would kill off RIM.



    I can therefore see why Jobs might dismiss RIM as a niche product whose time is almost certainly up.
  • Reply 8 of 50
    Aw man. I'm going into he health care field and a mac tablet world be sweet for Doctor type stuff. Charts, quick access to labs, medical images would all be so nice on a tablet.
  • Reply 9 of 50
    I still think there's a tremendous market waiting for a good tablet. The market has failed because there hasn't been a good one - yet. Part of that is technology that didn't exist in 2002 (but may now), and part because they were designed by clunky PC people.



    Take a MacBook - replace the keyboard and trackpad with a touch-sensitive screen and you've got a real nice system. Give it a large flash drive (in addition to a mostly-off hard drive) so it can run 6-8 hours on battery, then there's a tablet that'll really get some good use.



    (edit to add the following)



    Heh, just saw this:

    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/ModBook

    http://www.macworld.com/news/2007/01/04/owc/index.php



    I suspect it'll be pricey (my guess is a MacBook + $1000) but it'll test the waters for demand.
  • Reply 10 of 50
    I think a tablet would be great, but not just a laptop with a twisty screen. IT should be a flat item with a screen and stylus. If you want a keyboard plug one in. I don't expect this though because Steve doesn't see it as possible now.



    But I expect a phone. Maybe this week we will get a 'regular' phone, but the real vision is not just some phone. It's a handheld device. All screen in front, touch sensitive, 16:9. A phone, music and video player, and surprise, an Apple Remote Desltop that can remotely control and transfer files with any Mac on the planet through Internet and the mobile phone data networks. And Apple will be a provider giving seamless service.



    This articles only helps confirm the vision, and I have details of such a device HERE. The device described IS possible to make. The hardware isn't revolutionary - it's the software thaqt will be. I see it later this year.
  • Reply 11 of 50
    gordygordy Posts: 934member
    There is no market--mass market--for a tablet form factor. History has proven that over and over. Steve's insights--if they are to be believed--still seem to be a bit stale. Come on, 5 years?



    To date--and I will eat my shoe if wrong--I have seen nothing to support an Apple cell phone. Absolutely nothing. Apple no longer enters highly competitive markets just because they can. There's just no angle. I don't believe it.



    Remember how you guys got creamed into a lather this time last year over the wide-screen iPod rumors? Look at yourselves. This is sad.
  • Reply 12 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gordy View Post


    There is no market--mass market--for a tablet form factor. History has proven that over and over. Steve's insights--if they are to be believed--still seem to be a bit stale. Come on, 5 years?



    To date--and I will eat my shoe if wrong--I have seen nothing to support an Apple cell phone. Absolutely nothing. Apple no longer enters highly competitive markets just because they can. There's just no angle. I don't believe it.



    Remember how you guys got creamed into a lather this time last year over the wide-screen iPod rumors? Look at yourselves. This is sad.



    It's true everyone is getting too anticipatory about the imaginary phone.



    Expect nothing, then if they do show off something new and exciting, you'll be surprised.
  • Reply 13 of 50
    That story was a great read. This David likely doesn't know jack about what Steve's up to for his keynote, but he's been in the belly of the beast for a very long time ... thus providing some great insight.



    We have 5 more days before the Stevenote, so be careful not to O.D. on every tantalizing little rumor morstle that will be thrown your way.
  • Reply 14 of 50
  • Reply 15 of 50
    I agree with the blog post that we won't see a tablet, but the confident prediction for the iphone sure is encouraging. I can't wait to see the apocalypse that will come about when it isn't announced, haha!



    After reading the parts about Jobs' managment style I haven't read anything surprising. He's not an asshole, and I'm not a fanboy. Everyone knows he's tough. He does what gets the job done and the success speaks for itself. I think Jobs realizes what many do not: Apple is Jobs. This company is his garage project that he created. This guy basically created the personal computing experience that we all use today and then came back to the company and single handedly dragged it out of oblivion into what it is today. Jobs can say or do whatever he wants with his company. Sure he doesn't own it anymore and he now stands accountable to stockholders and boardmembers for his decisions, but can anyone actually ignore the success of Apple under Steve Jobs? He's a leader and a good one at that. He does what he wants with his company because it works and he knows it. So all this BS about him being an asshole or whatnot is about as goofy as saying you don't mind a stranger telling you how to live your life.



    Jobs likely won't step down anytime soon in my opinion. For someone who is so involved in the creative process of his product at such a deep level you can tell he really loves building the stuff he dreams about more than he loves being a businessman, that's why he talks about GarageBand 'n shit at the meetings and thats why he creates the market rather than joining it. The next person to lead Apple had better really "get" Jobs and the way he thinks if Apple has any chance of surviving after him.
  • Reply 16 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sCreeD View Post


    Calling a CIO an idiot is not what I would label as "reprimanding customers". I'd call it "efficient management skills." You have to understand that the higher you go on the corporate ladder, the stupider the person... in general... for large organizations.



    Not true. The problem is that many execs are serial businessmen don't spend enough time gathering a real understanding of their corporation's process or its product(s). But most of these guys are plenty smart, and are usually quite good at what they do, discounting of course the aforementioned areas.
  • Reply 17 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nmcphers View Post


    Why are you getting excited over the possibility of a Mac Tablet when the article indicates the opposite.



    Mainly because they were also stating that the iPhone was never going to happen ever, and here we are waiting for its arrival The fact that it was actually brought up to Apple means that the idea will be floating around someone.



    I personally have been wishing for one since I got my Powerbook G4



    And on that note, I am excited to see exactly how well made the ModBook is. I may have to get me one and tell you guys first hand
  • Reply 18 of 50
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    Quote:

    To date--and I will eat my shoe if wrong--I have seen nothing to support an Apple cell phone. Absolutely nothing. Apple no longer enters highly competitive markets just because they can. There's just no angle. I don't believe it.



    I can agree if a phone where simply for voice calls.



    Once you add in VOIP, e-mail, text messaging, multimedia, file sharing. The picture becomes more complicated, as the phones software becomes very important, and how it ties into you computer. Apple has been able to do this better than most others and right now there is no great smart phone for the Mac.



    Where Apple has a big opportunity is in the fact that most people in the US are unsatisfied with the current phone market. All phone service providers work to lock you into their service and then charge extra to use most of the functionality of the phone. Apple can introduce a service that does not charge users for using the phones full functionality.
  • Reply 19 of 50
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Go Banana View Post


    I agree with the blog post that we won't see a tablet, but the confident prediction for the iphone sure is encouraging. I can't wait to see the apocalypse that will come about when it isn't announced, haha!



    After reading the parts about Jobs' managment style I haven't read anything surprising. He's not an asshole, and I'm not a fanboy. Everyone knows he's tough. He does what gets the job done and the success speaks for itself. I think Jobs realizes what many do not: Apple is Jobs. This company is his garage project that he created. This guy basically created the personal computing experience that we all use today and then came back to the company and single handedly dragged it out of oblivion into what it is today. Jobs can say or do whatever he wants with his company. Sure he doesn't own it anymore and he now stands accountable to stockholders and boardmembers for his decisions, but can anyone actually ignore the success of Apple under Steve Jobs? He's a leader and a good one at that. He does what he wants with his company because it works and he knows it. So all this BS about him being an asshole or whatnot is about as goofy as saying you don't mind a stranger telling you how to live your life.



    Jobs likely won't step down anytime soon in my opinion. For someone who is so involved in the creative process of his product at such a deep level you can tell he really loves building the stuff he dreams about more than he loves being a businessman, that's why he talks about GarageBand 'n shit at the meetings and thats why he creates the market rather than joining it. The next person to lead Apple had better really "get" Jobs and the way he thinks if Apple has any chance of surviving after him.



    Incisive summary. I agree there is no replacement for the father of Apple, if you could somehow consider Woz it's crazy uncle, and Apple's growth will suffer from Jobs' loss or retirement. I only hope I would be privy to when he's going so I could sell early...
  • Reply 20 of 50
    I just reread the article and I remembered why I was happy to read it (Tablet)



    Quote:

    "First, he said, the wireless bandwidth for huge images, plus the security needed to successfully do what NIH wanted, was just not on the horizon," the former Apple employee recalled. "Plus, tablets' screen resolution was nowhere near that required for NIH's high-quality medical images. Finally, any product designed to work in the medical field would attract significant liability. The hint was that Apple wasn't interested in anything with that kind of potential liability. That pretty well shut down the issue."



    Internet has gotten up to 10 Mbps, wireless internet has gotten up to 300 Mbps (Wireless N), the 17" Macbook Pro I'm sitting on has a current resolution of 1680 x 1050.



    As well as the Playstation 3 is being used in medical organizations to find a cure for cancer. Therefore, showing that the liability isn't too grand.





    Showing that all reasons for Jobs to respond that way have been basically improved to (hopefully) his liking.





    Oh, and there is already a Mac Tablet being released. ModBook will be coming at MacWorld
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