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Steve Jobs wanted Sony's Vaio computers to run Mac OS X

post #1 of 68
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Despite stamping out the once-popular Mac clone program upon his return to Apple in the late 1990s, Steve Jobs a few years later reportedly flew to Hawaii to pitch executives of Japanese electronics giant Sony on the idea of selling Mac-compatible VAIO computers.

Sony VAIO


The revelation came as part of an interview with former Sony president Kunitake Ando by Japanese technology journalist and longtime Apple follower Noboyuki Hayashi.

Hayashi notes that Jobs' admiration for Sony and its co-founder Akio Morita often saw him make routine, casual trips to the Sony's headquarters. There Jobs reportedly inspired Sony to build GPS chips into its cameras, drop the optical disc drives from its PlayStation Portable line, and even drew inspiration for how Apple's then fledgeling retail business should operate based on Sony's SonyStyle shops.

Jobs also knew that many of Sony's executives would spends their winter vacation in Hawaii and play golf after celebrating new year. In one of those new year golf competitions back in 2001, Ando recalled how Steve Jobs and another Apple executive were waiting for his group at the end of golf course holding a VAIO running Mac OS. Once, [Steve Jobs] took one of the latest Cybershots in hand and said 'if this thing had a built-in GPS, I can record everything that happens to my life.'

One of Jobs's first orders of business upon his return to Apple in 1997 was to shutter the Mac Clone program that licensed the Mac OS to third party hardware makers because he believed it would ultimately prove damaging to the Mac's ecosystem.

"Steve Jobs believed that Mac-compatible business would harm not only Apple's business but also the 'Mac' brand," Hayashi wrote. "But that same Steve Jobs was willing to make an exception in 2001. And that exception was Sony's VAIO."

It's believed that the OS running on that Sony VAIO was an early copy of the Intel version of Mac OS X, which Apple then presumably hid for another four plus years before announcing that it would be switching all Macs to run on Intel chips -- rather than PowerPC chips -- in June of 2005.

Though Ando was a fan of the original iMac and believed the Mac and VAIO fed off the same philosophies, it was around that time in 2001 that Sony was witnessing the VAIO gain popularity and traction in the market, with the company finally having finished optimizing its hardware and software for the Windows platform.

"Because of this, most of the VAIO team opposed asking 'if it is worth it,'" Hayashi wrote. "And that was the end of story for this Mac-compatible VAIO."
post #2 of 68

Should it be true, people should stop saying "S. Jobs would have never done such thing"...;)

post #3 of 68
Sony and Apple did have some chemistry in those days. IMHO it's probably best nothing came of this, it might well have been another knife in the back waiting to happen, had it occurred.
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post #4 of 68

Maybe for mercy, because he knew what would happen to the VAIO line (being sold for peanuts)? Maybe he was a bad man, and since he knew what he would do to them with the iPod (Sony had the walkman, music rights, music production, movie production, brand power, etc. and they were eaten alive!) he would strike the last headshot by taking OS X away from them.

post #5 of 68

Steve wanted a lot of things back in the day. 

 

He was probably also relieved that he didn't do some of those things. At the end of the day, OS X ran on Macs. End of story. 

 

Additionally, a lot of claims can be made about Steve after his passing. Yes, Steve probably liked Sony and its folk. And yes, this could also be right up there with the rest of the "Elvis was my dad!" fish-stories. 

post #6 of 68

Sony's hardware has always been quite stylish, but they've never been able to write software worth a damn.

 

This would have been a good match.

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post #7 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ealvarez View Post
 

Should it be true, people should stop saying "S. Jobs would have never done such thing"...;)

True or not they should stop it already...

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post #8 of 68
As far as I heard he walked around Apple with some kind of NEXT box, or computer running NEXT OS for years. Probably a viao. In 2001 that's all Apple would have had.
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post #9 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

Sony's hardware has always been quite stylish, but they've never been able to write software worth a damn.

This would have been a good match.

I wonder if they would have run into the same problems Be, Inc., had when Hitachi wanted to ship computers with BeOS installed/included... Microsoft threatened to pull their Windows license, or at least to lose their preferred pricing. Hitachi ended up including BeOS on a CD, with no mention in any kind of documentation on what it was, how to install, etc. It's a shame that instances like that didn't come up during the anti-monopoly trial in the 90's.
post #10 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

As far as I heard he walked around Apple with some kind of NEXT box, or computer running NEXT OS for years. Probably a viao. In 2001 that's all Apple would have had.

IBM Thinkpad IIRC.

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post #11 of 68
The post-death Steve Jobs we all know so damn well would never have done what this pre-death Steve Jobs is purported to have considered doing!
post #12 of 68
I had a vaio in 2002. It sucked, probably due to XP. 3 years later it crashed w bsod.
post #13 of 68

Personally, I feel that these may have sold well had Sony agreed to do it.

 

Out of all of the "PC" manufacturers the Sony Vaio range is the only one that has ever made a concerted effort to be elegant.

 

My biggest problem with the Vaio's is how they started releasing cheap and nasty ones along with the premium versions to cash in on the name around 2006 onwards.

 

Ah well, none of us have a crystal ball to peer into and see what life would be like had Sony accepted the offer.

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post #14 of 68

As I recall Sony was one of the major investors in Next, and it is no surprise to me that SJ admired Sony and their products in those days. Sony was a leader in many fields, and I can understand how Akio Morita could have inspired SJ in many ways. It could have been an interesting relationship.

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post #15 of 68
I was a devoted customer of Sony through generations of televisions, then VAIO laptops and desktops, tolerating the increasing irritations with Windows and blue screens of death. We finally made the complete conversion to Apple computers and handheld devices in 2008 and 2009 as iPhones and iPod Touch gave us back the device integration that Sony played with years before in its CLEO Palm-based PDAs - but abandoned.

Watching Sony's decline from the mid 2000s on was sad - like watching the Titanic in its epic movie, finally sliding into the frigid North Atlantic.

In hindsight it probably would not have been so fortunate today for Apple had Jobs actually forged a computer alliance with Sony. But where might Sony be today had it not so resolutely steamed full speed into its own iceberg?

There needs to be a book written about Sony's fateful (and fatal) strategic mistakes of the previous decade. The foundations of every Sony product line were destroyed by Apple's integration paradigm.
Edited by Kibitzer - 2/5/14 at 7:10am

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post #16 of 68

I had one of those little VAIO notebooks, 11" screen, ultralight, huge battery life. Those were way ahead of their time, and I thought they were a much better piece of hardware than Apple was making then. If it had had MacOS, too? Wow. 

post #17 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post
 

Steve wanted a lot of things back in the day. 

 

He was probably also relieved that he didn't do some of those things. At the end of the day, OS X ran on Macs. End of story. 

 

Additionally, a lot of claims can be made about Steve after his passing. Yes, Steve probably liked Sony and its folk. And yes, this could also be right up there with the rest of the "Elvis was my dad!" fish-stories. 

 

You do realize that Apple did have OSX running on Intel for a few years before the MacBooks were released, right?
 

http://www.quora.com/Apple-company/How-does-Apple-keep-secrets-so-well/answers/1280472

 

Why is it that just because you don't think something aligns with what you think Steve Jobs would or would not do makes it an "Elvis was my dad" story?

post #18 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by 65C816 View Post
 

 

You do realize that Apple did have OSX running on Intel for a few years before the MacBooks were released, right?
 

http://www.quora.com/Apple-company/How-does-Apple-keep-secrets-so-well/answers/1280472

 

Why is it that just because you don't think something aligns with what you think Steve Jobs would or would not do makes it an "Elvis was my dad" story?

 Read what he said again. He said it could be one of those stories not that it was. Of course, OSX could run on Intel from the get goes as Apple used Next as the foundation. I suspect, however, Apple under Jobs always had the long term goal of switching to Intel and that was the primary reason to maintain Intel compatibility. People seem surprised Jobs looked at things like this, but a CEO has to explore options. 

post #19 of 68
That's a shame because Vaio's sported HDMI, smallness and lightness long before Apple had them.
 
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post #20 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by razorpit View Post
 

True or not they should stop it already...

Indeed :)

post #21 of 68
It's not for nothing that Apple Stores feature Sony TVs to display the ATV
 
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post #22 of 68

Not surprising at all.

 

In 1991, Apple handed the schematics for the PowerBook 100 to Sony to have the latter miniaturize the components, something Apple's hardware engineers at the time had difficulty in doing. The end result was a notebook computer considerably smaller than the Apple Portable (a.k.a. "Luggable") that the PowerBook 100 replaced -- the internals were pretty much identical.

 

Sony was at the top of its game at the time, having a superb track record of making quality compact portable electronics (e.g., Walkman, Discman).

 

Even in the latter half of the Nineties, the spectre of Samsung and other Korean manufacturers had yet to cast a dark shadow on Sony's empire.

post #23 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ealvarez View Post

Should it be true, people should stop saying "S. Jobs would have never done such thing"...1wink.gif

Same, without the winky face. Stop speaking for the dead.

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post #24 of 68
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Originally Posted by pazuzu View Post

It's not for nothing that Apple Stores feature Sony TVs to display the ATV

Without Sony, what other TV will they use? Some Korean brand? Not likely, ever.

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post #25 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by pazuzu View Post

That's a shame because Vaio's sported HDMI, smallness and lightness long before Apple had them.

I had one. It shipped crippled by Windows Vista.

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post #26 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlor View Post
 

I had one of those little VAIO notebooks, 11" screen, ultralight, huge battery life. Those were way ahead of their time, and I thought they were a much better piece of hardware than Apple was making then. If it had had MacOS, too? Wow. 

 

The VAIO notebook I had ten years ago looked just as good as a Macbook, hardware-wise, once you took off all the stickers.

post #27 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


Without Sony, what other TV will they use? Some Korean brand? Not likely, ever.

They seem to have a good relationship with LG, who are a South Korean brand that make decent TVs.  Or there's Sharp, a Japanese manufacturer that Apple use for displays.

 

Samsung aren't the only other player in the game.

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post #28 of 68
Even if he did I doubt this have not worked out well for Sony. The HP+iPod and Motorola ROKR stand out as examples of Apple under Jobs essentially "humping and dumping" HW partners they apparently used for marketing reasons. We already know Jobs drop the clone market and didn't partner with anyone else so regardless of how much he respected Sony at the time I don't think Sony would have benefited from such a marriage unless they could have secured as very, very long, ironclad contract to get OS X with timely and viable updates for Sony's HW.

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post #29 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post

Not surprising at all.

In 1991, Apple handed the schematics for the PowerBook 100 to Sony to have the latter miniaturize the components, something Apple's hardware engineers at the time had difficulty in doing. The end result was a notebook computer considerably smaller than the Apple Portable (a.k.a. "Luggable") that the PowerBook 100 replaced -- the internals were pretty much identical.

Sony was at the top of its game at the time, having a superb track record of making quality compact portable electronics (e.g., Walkman, Discman).

Even in the latter half of the Nineties, the spectre of Samsung and other Korean manufacturers had yet to cast a dark shadow on Sony's empire.

You reminded me of something else. About 10 years ago large flat screen HDTVs were coming into the market big time and Sony did a joint venture with Samsung to build a large display plant in Korea. Sony bowed out of the venture a few years later. Talk about mistakes - the alliance with Apple that wasn't - and the alliance with Samsung that was.

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post #30 of 68
During my pre-mac days, I always went with Sony Vaio laptops. For what it's worth, I think they were the best in terms of design, features, and quality. Those were the only models I would buy.

After buying my first mac (Macbook Air) I then realized what quality actually meant. I'm glad OSX stayed put on the Mac platform.

Sony would have just messed it up.
post #31 of 68

In the late 90s, an IBM executive was observed traveling with a PowerPC Thinkpad that could triple boot Windows + MacOS + AIX.

post #32 of 68
I had a Sony VAIO laptop. It was more expensive than the MacBook Pro that I replaced it with under Best Buy's no lemon policy. The VAIO had overheating problems (and was poorly engineered where the battery was socketed, leading to rattling when moved). Windows XP was what it came with and it was advertised to be compatible with the soon to be released free Vista upgrade. The machine was decent under XP. The machine was abysmal under Vista!! Between the bad drivers and bundled junk software that never got updated for Vista, and the overheat failure, I replaced it with a second MacBook Pro (my current primary computer, since I hate Windows utterly now).

That's my brief experience with Sony VAIO computers. They should've taken Jobs' offer.
post #33 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

I had a vaio in 2002. It sucked, probably due to XP. 3 years later it crashed w bsod.

 

It ran for three years before crashing? What a terrible machine!

post #34 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlmondRoca View Post
 

 

The VAIO notebook I had ten years ago looked just as good as a Macbook, hardware-wise, once you took off all the stickers.

 

The Vaios are still very nice machine, so you can combine the best of both worlds by making a Vaio mackintosh...

post #35 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

During my pre-mac days, I always went with Sony Vaio laptops. For what it's worth, I think they were the best in terms of design, features, and quality. Those were the only models I would buy.

After buying my first mac (Macbook Air) I then realized what quality actually meant. I'm glad OSX stayed put on the Mac platform.

Sony would have just messed it up.

I owned one VAIO and found that big electronics companies just want to sell you a box. You don't get the same level of post-sales support (say driver updates, future OS updates) as companies that ARE primarily computer companies. I always had better post-sale experiences with Apple, HP and IBM than computers from Sony and Samsung, who rapidly lose interest in supporting you after they've taken your money from the sale.

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post #36 of 68

Steve thought that he was fine with clones even up until WWDC 1997. We know that changed completely.

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post #37 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


I owned one VAIO and found that big electronics companies just want to sell you a box. You don't get the same level of post-sales support (say driver updates, future OS updates) as companies that ARE primarily computer companies. I always had better post-sale experiences with Apple, HP and IBM than computers from Sony and Samsung, who rapidly lose interest in supporting you after they've taken your money from the sale.

 

All of the last three (well, not HP anymore, and IBM is out of the business, so that leaves Apple) were premium vendors -- you paid a bit more for the hardware, but, as you say, you got more than just the hardware). Sony had (and still has) the problem that it made some premium machines and some commodity junk.

post #38 of 68

I recall that Sony was one of the co-developers of the Firewire standard, which they called i.Link.  In retrospect, that name seems very prescient.  Didn't SJ use a Sony videocamera to demonstrate iMovie, via the i.Link interface?  Firewire debuted in the iMac on 10/5/99, in the slot-loading DV models.  Anyway, the i.Link/Firewire development suggests to me that Apple and Sony were exploring many ideas together, and it seems not unreasonable that a VAIO running MacOS could have been under consideration.

post #39 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post
 

I recall that Sony was one of the co-developers of the Firewire standard, which they called i.Link.  In retrospect, that name seems very prescient.  Didn't SJ use a Sony videocamera to demonstrate iMovie, via the i.Link interface?  Firewire debuted in the iMac on 10/5/99, in the slot-loading DV models.  Anyway, the i.Link/Firewire development suggests to me that Apple and Sony were exploring many ideas together, and it seems not unreasonable that a VAIO running MacOS could have been under consideration.

 

Sony and Apple go way back: Sony made the floppy drives for the Mac, and the floptical for the NeXT. Apple's core pro audience has been historically video people, and Sony was (and remains) dominant in that business. For a long time Firewire was the only reasonable way to get your video from the camera to the Mac. However, as pointed out somewhere above, with the iPod Apple very much encroached on Sony's territory, and that was kind of the end of the beautiful friendship.

post #40 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by marubeni View Post
 

 

Sony and Apple go way back: Sony made the floppy drives for the Mac, and the floptical for the NeXT. Apple's core pro audience has been historically video people, and Sony was (and remains) dominant in that business. For a long time Firewire was the only reasonable way to get your video from the camera to the Mac. However, as pointed out somewhere above, with the iPod Apple very much encroached on Sony's territory, and that was kind of the end of the beautiful friendship.

I believe Sony make the camera sensors for the iPhone (possibly the iPad too).  Maybe not as friendly as in the past, but they certainly have a relationship.

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