Steve Jobs believes people will be doing lot more work on tablets in the future, including heavy workloads typically associated with desktop PCs. On Tuesday, Jobs proclaimed that the post-PC era has arrived, while acknowledging that PCs have "taken us a long way" and that the transition will be lengthy, and uncomfortable for some.
Jobs was the opening act at the D: All Things Digital conference on June 1 in Southern California. In a 90-minute interview with The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, Jobs (below) discussed a wide range of topics, from tablets replacing PCs to Apple rejecting Adobe Flash to competing with Google to AT&T's data network challenges. I've compiled a selection of Job's most salient statements.
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Will tablets replace PCs?
"I'm trying to think of a good analogy. When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks. But as people moved more towards urban centers, people started to get into cars. I think PCs are going to be like trucks. Less people will need them. And this transformation is going to make some people uneasy... because the PC has taken us a long way. They were amazing. But it changes. Vested interests are going to change. And, I think we've embarked on that change. Is it the iPad? Who knows? Will it be next year or five years? ... We like to talk about the post-PC era, but when it really starts to happen, it's uncomfortable."
Rejecting Adobe Flash
"Flash looks like a technology that had its day but is really waning, and HTML5 looks like the technology that is really on the ascendency right now... We didn't start off to have a war with Flash. We just made a technical decision... We told Adobe, 'If you ever have this thing running fast, come back and show us.' Which they never did... We shipped iPhone and it [didn't] use Flash. It wasn't until we shipped the iPad and it didn't use Flash that Adobe started to raise a stink about it. And that's why I wrote 'Thoughts on Flash' because we were trying to be real professional about this and weren't talking to the press about it ... and we finally just said, 'Enough is enough. We're tired of these guys trashing us in the press over this.'"
[Listen to Jobs respond to this question in the video clip below. It is Steve Jobs as his most passionate.]
Competing with Google
"They decided to compete with us. We didn't go into the search business... No, they started competing with us, and it got more and more serious... We [still] have some Google properties on our phone. Just because we're competing with someone doesn't mean we have to be rude."
Apple's deal with AT&T
"We really changed the rules of the game... When you bought a phone the carrier dictated what you had on the phone. iPhone was the first phone where we said, 'You worry about the network. We'll worry about the phone.'"
What AT&T is doing to improve the network
"Remember, they're handling way more data traffic than all of their other competitors combined... To make things better, [carriers] re-allocate [wireless] spectrum.They take spectrum they weren't using or were using for something else and allocate it to this problem. And, they do things like increase the backhaul. So they put in things like Gigabit Ethernet instead of T1s. And they put in more robust switches to switch the data. Things in general when they start to fix them get worse before they get better. That's what I'm told. If you believe that, things should be getting a lot better soon. I am told that a lot of places are getting a lot better, certainly by the end of this summer, and I believe the people that are telling me that truly believe it and are high-competency people."
Passing Microsoft in market valuation
"For those of us who have been in the industry for a long time, it's surreal. But, it doesn't matter very much... It's not what's important. It's not what makes you come to work in the morning." [For background on this story, read this CNET report]
PC vs. Mac platform wars
"We never saw ourselves in a platform war with Microsoft, and maybe that's why we lost... Sure we thought about Microsoft, but we never saw it as a platform war."
Closed ecosystem for iPhone and iPad
"Well, let's first say we have two platforms we support. One is open and uncontrolled. That's HTML5. We support HTML5. We have the best support for it of anyone in the world. We then support a curated platform which is the App Store. It is the most vital app community on any platform. How do we curate this? It's a bunch of people, and they come into work every day. We have a few rules: It has to do what it's advertised to do. It has to not crash. It can't use private APIs. And those are the three biggest reasons we reject apps. But, we approve 95% of all the apps that are submitted every week."
Apple's stance on user privacy
"We worry a lot about location in phones... We worry that some 14-year-old gets stalked and something terrible happens to them. That's why the system requires its own dialog pop-up [to reveal location information]... We have rejected a lot of apps that want to take your personal data and suck it up into the cloud. A lot of people in the Valley think we are really old-fashioned about that, and maybe we are. Privacy means people know what they are signing up for in plain English... Some people want to share more data. Ask them. Ask them every time. Let them know precisely what you are going to do with their data."
Emailing with customers
"Nothing makes my day more than getting a random email from someone talking about how cool the iPad is. That's what keeps me going. That's what kept me going back then, and now, and will keep me going in the future." [Jobs' public email address is well known: firstname.lastname@example.org]
Apple's tablet preceded iPhone
"I'll tell you a secret. I actually started on tablet first. I had an idea of a multitouch display that you could type on. About six months later they called me in and showed me this prototype display. This was in the early 2000s. I gave it to one of Apple's early UI folks who got inertia scrolling and other things working and I thought, 'My God, we can build a phone with this.' And we put the tablet aside and we went to work on the phone."
Going after Gizmodo over iPhone 4 leak
"You know, when this whole thing with Gizmodo happened, I got advice from people who said, 'You gotta just let it slide. You shouldn't go after a journalist just because they bought stolen property and tried to extort you.' And I thought deeply about this, and I concluded the worst thing that could happen is if we change our core values and let it slide. I can't do that. I'd rather quit... There's an ongoing investigation. I can tell you what I do know, though. To make a product you need to test it. You have to carry them outside. One of our employees was carrying one. There's a debate about whether he left it in a bar, or it was stolen out of his bag."
How Apple is organized as a company
"One of the keys to Apple is that Apple is an incredibly collaborative company. You know how many committees we have at Apple? Zero. We're organized like a startup. We're the biggest start up on the planet. We meet for three hours every morning and talk about all the business, about what's going on everywhere. We're great at figuring out how to divide things up into great teams, and we talk to each other. So what I do all day is meet with teams of people... I have one of the best jobs in the world. I get to come in and work with some of the most brilliant people in the world. We play in the best sandbox."
Quote of the night
"We want to make better products... What I love about the marketplace is that we do our products, we tell people about them, and if they like them, we get to come to work tomorrow."
- Steve Jobs: Let the post-PC era begin (CNET)
- Steve Jobs Explains His World at All Things D (CBS News)
- Steve Jobs at D8: Plenty of insight with ammo in reserve for WWDC (ZDNet)
- D8 interview; Steve Jobs unfiltered (ZDNet)
- Steve Jobs live from D8 (Engadget)
- Steve Jobs: iPad Makes PCs Look Like Big, Dumb Trucks (LAPTOP)
- Steve Jobs Ushers in Post-PC Era (PCMag)
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks.