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

Posted:
in macOS edited February 2014
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."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 74

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

  • Reply 2 of 74
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,215member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 74

    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.

  • Reply 4 of 74
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,743member

    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. 

  • Reply 5 of 74
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member

    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.

  • Reply 6 of 74
    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...

  • Reply 7 of 74
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,293member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 74
    gtr wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 74
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,824member
    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.

  • Reply 10 of 74
    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!
  • Reply 11 of 74
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,687member
    I had a vaio in 2002. It sucked, probably due to XP. 3 years later it crashed w bsod.
  • Reply 12 of 74
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,127member

    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.

  • Reply 13 of 74

    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.

  • Reply 14 of 74
    kibitzerkibitzer Posts: 1,113member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 74
    arlorarlor Posts: 496member

    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. 

  • Reply 16 of 74
    65c81665c816 Posts: 133member
    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?

  • Reply 17 of 74
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    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. 

  • Reply 18 of 74
    pazuzupazuzu Posts: 1,728member
    That's a shame because Vaio's sported HDMI, smallness and lightness long before Apple had them.
  • Reply 18 of 74
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by razorpit View Post

     

    True or not they should stop it already...


    Indeed :)

  • Reply 20 of 74
    pazuzupazuzu Posts: 1,728member
    It's not for nothing that Apple Stores feature Sony TVs to display the ATV
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