Steve Jobs email confirms Apple considered tablet Mac, 15-inch MacBook Air in 2007

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 3
An internal email written by late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs offers a window into the tech giant's hardware strategy just after the first iPhone launched in 2007, plans that included a tablet Mac and a 15-inch MacBook Air.

MacBook Air


The document, made public as part of discovery in Epic v. Apple and highlighted by Twitter account TechEmails on Wednesday, is a printout of an executive team meeting agenda from August 2007, two months after the original iPhone launched. While most topics of discussion have since been revealed publicly, there are tidbits that offer insight into projects that failed to make the cut.

For example, Jobs refers to a 15-inch MacBook Air that was scheduled for launch or internal planning in the first half of 2008. Apple would go on to debut a 13-inch MacBook Air in a classic 2008 unveiling that saw Jobs pull the svelte thin-and-light out of a manila envelope.

Rumors of Apple's interest in a 15-inch MacBook Air surfaced in 2009, and again more recently in January, though the company has thus far not committed to a larger variant of its popular notebook. An 11-inch model was produced between 2010 to 2016.

Interestingly, Apple also appears to have considered the introduction of a tablet Mac prior to the introduction of iPad in 2010. A brief mention in Jobs' email, a "tablet" was teed up for discussion under the Mac category. Before the launch of iPad, scuttlebutt pegged Apple as an early entrant in the tablet PC game, though the company ultimately went in a different -- and arguably smarter -- direction by adopting an energy-efficient ARM-based platform that ran a lightweight operating system.

Other details revealed in Jobs' email include mention of a "Super nano" device that could be an unreleased iPod variant and the potential opening of iPhoneOS (later iOS) to accommodate third-party apps. On the latter, handwritten notes scrawled in the margins of the document show that Apple was perhaps considering a partnership with EA that would bring games to iPhone and iPod touch.

A separate internal email, also from the Epic v. Apple trial, sees software chief Eddy Cue discuss the promotion of music identification service Shazam's then-new Shazam Player app in the App Store in 2012. Cue decided against the suggestion, saying, "[w]e are not going to promote something that puts it's [sic] goal as replacing our music player unless it is significantly better than our player and it is not."

Apple acquired Shazam in 2017.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,684member
    Would have thought it might made a mention that at the time the other co-founder had a company that converted MacBooks to tablets. 
    bloggerblogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 17
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,557member
    I would love a 15" MBA.  Crossing fingers Apple changes its mind.
    MplsPwilliamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 17
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 810member
    While these glimpses into Apple are interesting, the whole line of questioning in the trial about what Apple could have done is highly annoying. Could Apple have allowed side loading, etc. 

    Let’s dig into what “epic” might have done. “Epic”could have followed the terms of it’s agreement with Apple.  That was a choice.  “Epic” could have developed a phone, it’s own commission free and open App Store, why not?  Amazon made a phone and makes tablets. Facebook made a phone. Why not epic?
    wonkothesaneh4y3sqwerty52chiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 17
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 2,557member
    williamh said:
    While these glimpses into Apple are interesting, the whole line of questioning in the trial about what Apple could have done is highly annoying. Could Apple have allowed side loading, etc. 

    Let’s dig into what “epic” might have done. “Epic”could have followed the terms of it’s agreement with Apple.  That was a choice.  “Epic” could have developed a phone, it’s own commission free and open App Store, why not?  Amazon made a phone and makes tablets. Facebook made a phone. Why not epic?
    I don't recall Facebook ever making a phone.
  • Reply 5 of 17
    williamh said:
    While these glimpses into Apple are interesting, the whole line of questioning in the trial about what Apple could have done is highly annoying. Could Apple have allowed side loading, etc. 

    Let’s dig into what “epic” might have done. “Epic”could have followed the terms of it’s agreement with Apple.  That was a choice.  “Epic” could have developed a phone, it’s own commission free and open App Store, why not?  Amazon made a phone and makes tablets. Facebook made a phone. Why not epic?
    I don't recall Facebook ever making a phone.
    They did, but it flopped almost immediately, if not even before it launched. 
    edited June 2 TomPMRIbloggerblogwilliamlondonchiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 17
    pulseimagespulseimages Posts: 436member
    I was at the Apple Store over the weekend and one of store employees said to me “Can you imagine what Apple would be like today if Steve Jobs lived? Vastly different than Tim Cook’s Apple.” I agreed concurrently. 
    AlexMorelloionicleelijahgwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 17
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,196member
    As I recall, was t the iphone in early  development a tablet computer, and then Apple decided to shrink it?
    gregoriusmelijahgh4y3swatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 17
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,301member
    entropys said:
    As I recall, was t the iphone in early  development a tablet computer, and then Apple decided to shrink it?
    You remember correctly. Steve Jobs did not buy into the idea of developing an iPhone until mid-2005. Project Purple was all about a tablet.

    More fun Apple email reveals include Steve Jobs still resisting an AppStore months after the iPhone had launched, and in 2015 AppStore executives pushing for adoption of vetting processes Google used in their Play Store. 
    edited June 3 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 17
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,939member
    These tiny little background snapshots should remind us that product development decisions rarely follow the nice, clean, laser focused narratives that are portrayed in the media or even at product launches. You know, like “we always planned to do it this way” revisionism that fails to mention any of the stumbles, false starts, crazy stupid ideas that didn’t stick to the wall, proposals that sounded amazing in brainstorming sessions over beers that didn’t hold up to light-of-day sober scrutiny, overconfidence in the availability of unobtainium, etc., you know, kinds of decisions and activities that real new product development projects actually follow.

    It is fun to look back and bathe in the nostalgia and reflect on how messy making progress actually is. But you probably shouldn’t read too much into it. On the other hand, as a math professor of mine once told me, don’t ball up your failed attempts too tightly when you throw them in the trash can, you may want to pull them out and unroll them later when you realize, upon further reflection, that you were actually on to something but missed a critical step that could lead to a solution. 
    h4y3sMplsPshareef777elijahgchiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 17
    fred1fred1 Posts: 849member
    entropys said:
    As I recall, was t the iphone in early  development a tablet computer, and then Apple decided to shrink it?
    Yes, I’ve read that too. Apple was working on a tablet first and then decided to release it as a phone. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 17
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,430member
    I would love a 15" MBA.  Crossing fingers Apple changes its mind.
    Ditto - there are a lot of people who would like a bigger screen but don’t necessarily want or need the power of a MBP. I bet a 15” air would be very popular. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 17
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,808member
    I'd think this would answer those that keep demanding macOS on the iPad. Apple looked into it and realized that it was a bad idea. 
    williamlondonWgkruegerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 17
    williamlondonwilliamlondon Posts: 1,013member
    Oh dear god, a million years ago (in this industry) a company acted responsibly by evaluating some product ideas, but decided not to progress them. Who'd have thunk?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 17
    DAalseth said:
    I'd think this would answer those that keep demanding macOS on the iPad. Apple looked into it and realized that it was a bad idea. 
    Times change, technology progresses. The limitations which existed 10-15 years ago get overcome and then the idea is no longer bad, but becomes a good one to implement indeed.
    williamlondonelijahg
  • Reply 15 of 17
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,600member
    Steve Jobs has said he was proud of the decisions the company made to NOT launch numerous products over the years. 
  • Reply 16 of 17
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,614moderator
    I would love a 15" MBA.  Crossing fingers Apple changes its mind.
    It would be a nice option, something like a $1799 15" fanless M1 Air with 4 ports would be popular. Apple used to make 12" and 14" iBooks and then went with 13" to work for both.

    They probably didn't do a 15" Air because it would persuade a lot of 16" MBP users to drop down to a lower price point. Especially with the M1 chip, this would be enough for software development and photography, leaving only creatives with higher performance needs for the 16" models (<5% of Mac users). It would persuade some 13" users to a higher price too though.

    If they make a 14" MBP, that would get some of the way there.
    I was at the Apple Store over the weekend and one of store employees said to me “Can you imagine what Apple would be like today if Steve Jobs lived? Vastly different than Tim Cook’s Apple.” I agreed concurrently. 
    People never say how it would be different. Just having other people agree with a sentiment doesn't make it any more credible. You can find over 3 billion people in the world to agree that an invisible man lives in the sky. There's a trend these days that facts should be determined by opinion volume.

    This perspective probably comes about because Steve Jobs worked on new products right to the end. Apple's products are planned years in advance so the last products Steve Jobs worked on would have been around 2014/2015. Apple hasn't changed measurably in the last few years - same product line, same stores, same HQ, same executives.

    People obviously want to fantasize about what could have been but it's a fantasy and nothing more. Steve jobs was a CEO, he wasn't an engineer, chip designer, software developer, industrial designer. His talent was hiring great people to work on great products and many of those people still work at Apple. What Apple is capable of making is limited by them, not by Steve Jobs and if Steve Jobs had plans for other things, he would have given them that direction.

    Apple is a computer and electronics company, they make laptops, desktops, phones, tablets, watches, accessories, software and services. Once they put a computer in people's pockets, there were few places left to put a computer that people needed.
    dewmeWgkruegerqwerty52chiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 17
    danvmdanvm Posts: 1,179member
    Marvin said:
    I would love a 15" MBA.  Crossing fingers Apple changes its mind.
    It would be a nice option, something like a $1799 15" fanless M1 Air with 4 ports would be popular. Apple used to make 12" and 14" iBooks and then went with 13" to work for both.

    They probably didn't do a 15" Air because it would persuade a lot of 16" MBP users to drop down to a lower price point. Especially with the M1 chip, this would be enough for software development and photography, leaving only creatives with higher performance needs for the 16" models (<5% of Mac users). It would persuade some 13" users to a higher price too though.

    If they make a 14" MBP, that would get some of the way there.
    I agree, a 15' MBA would be a nice option.  On pricing, I think $1500 - $1600 would be perfect.  Looking forward to the 14" MBP.
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