22-year Apple vet: ‘I am 99% confident we will see an Apple phone next week’

“Next week, Steve Jobs will stand on stage in San Francisco to make his keynote speech at the Macworld show, to unveil new – much-rumoured – products. Here’s something I discovered in my 22 years at Apple: some of the toughest competition for the best seats, or the first of those new products, comes from former Windows-centric executives who Steve has personally sucked into his ‘reality distortion zone’ in face-to-face executive briefings,” David Sobotta (formerly Apple’s federal sales manager) writes for The Guardian.

“You want to go to one? You want to meet Steve Jobs to persuade him that Apple should build a tablet computer, or an iPhone? Then besides having a big purchasing budget and persuasive reasons, you’d better bring a big ego,” Sobotta explains.

“It’s an amazing experience to take part in a briefing with Steve. Stories about him reprimanding customers are true. Once, when renegotiating a Pixar distribution deal with Disney, he humiliated Disney’s chief information officer in front of his staff. 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,” Sobotta explains.

MacDailyNews Take: You want the truth? You can’t handle… Who wants to bet that Macs are in Disney’s creative process now?

Sobotta continues, “An executive briefing always looks, on paper, like a clash of titanic egos. From what I saw, most wilt quickly in Steve’s presence. And customers’ reverence for him usually overwhelms any hostility. In fact, it doesn’t really matter who is presenting or what is being discussed. When Steve enters a room, everything stops and attention turns to him. When he walks in you get the feeling that he has sucked all the other thoughts out of the room. As for quoting him precisely – you don’t take notes if you want to live.”

MacDailyNews Take: This is a fun read!

Sobotta continues, “So next week… I am 99% 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. Steve’s ability to know where consumers and technology will intersect often creates a road paved in gold. That’s why he’ll focus his energy on mobiles. The potential there that only Steve can see could well turn into another must-have product for the legions who don’t even know they are part of Steve’s army.”

Full article – very highly recommended – with much more, including Jobs on Mac Tablets, here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Marine Blue” and “typhoon john” for the heads up.]

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29 Comments

  1. False dichotomy: Civility vs. Honesty. How is it being ‘an ass’ to state an honest opinion about someone’s flops. More American executives need to have their failures thrown in their faces these days. God knows they’ve sure got lots of failures to hide from. I’d love it if somebody in the American auto industry had shown this kind of honesty and brass to the heads of General Motors in the past decade. Maybe they would have started building something other than behemoth gas-guzzlers.

    I think we’re all a bit tired of this insistence on ‘civility’ when there are glaring problems to be fixed. I think Steve Jobs sees the entire history of the personal computer as a great deal of potential that was squandered when it was stolen away by lesser minds such as Bill Gates and Steve Balmer. Civility in a board room is what resulted in the Sudetenland being given away to Adolph Hitler in 1938. Too often, politeness is just another word for lacking the courage of your convictions.

    I WANT people running things who have courage to press for their vision of how to proceed. If the only people who can speak are those with the conventional wisdom, you end up with the bullies running things unopposed. For this reason, I hope there is another, younger version of Steve Jobs somewhere at Apple occasionally ‘gettin’ all up in Steve’s grill’ about his own ideas. That is how genuine progress is made.

  2. There is a market for cell phones with whiz-bang feature sets, but I just don’t see it being big business for Apple, like the iPod for instance. Selling cell phones is complicated, and not just from a marketing stand point. Maybe we’re going to find out.

  3. My take on the Apple phone thingy…….. it will be announced this year; unfortunately just not next week.
    Why I am betting my last dollar for my theory – next week is MacWorld Expo; not Apple Expo.
    MacWorld SF keynotes will focus on all things Mac (especially the non pro hardware) related and unfortunately, the phone isn’t a Mac.

    Hint: every year its the same old thing and the same old timing. Just recall the last few year’s keynotes (all of them) given by Steve and you can guess when the Apple phone would be revealed.

    My guess to what Steve would reveal next week includes:

    New Airport technology (wireless N)
    iLife & iWork ’07 (even a 5 yr old would be able to guess this correctly)
    12″ or 13″ MacBook Pro
    new version of Final Cut Pro and/or Express
    10.5 may not make it for this quarter, but Steve would give the dateline for its release
    eSata connection for all new Macs

  4. Tergenev has hit the nail…

    Conventional wisdom yields conventional results, i.e. mediocrity and status quo.

    That’s why Apple continues to lead. It’s not about conventional wisdom and looking at how things are (already) done. It’s looking at the potential for doing new things.

    Windoze vs. Mac right there.

  5. I personally don’t give a rats ass if Steve is naughty or nice; don’t give a shit if I were to hate him if I met him. Hell, I don’t care if he’s an absolute pig … er … well, never mind on that one.
    Thing is, all I want from Steve is toys, lots and lots of really neat toys. And I don’t give a damn how he gets em made, if he has to kick ass, fine with me.
    Fact is, I’ll never meet the guy, but I’ll buy his toys!

  6. @Freddy the Pig

    Word. The founder of Sony was the same way, he loved the gadgets, and built them for himself, not for a committee or a focus group. That’s why they were great.

    -c

    MW: ‘getting’ (better all the time)

  7. OK, guys and gals. I’ve read this dork’s rantings on his blog in the past and they all have a highly negative tinge to it. Especially when the topic of SJ comes up. He is a disgruntled Ex-Apple employee whose bitter about being canned. Besides, we are supposed to believe his 99% certainty from a meeting he attended almost FIVE YEARS AGO? At the time, tablet PCs were being introduced by MS and SJ didn’t think it was a good idea to get into that area. So, because of this meeting in which Mr Sobotta was lucky to be present at, we are gonna see an iPhone from Apple. Pfffft!!!

  8. Another note. When this guy Sobotta came on the scene as a blogger he initially had comments enabled on his site. Guess what? He turned commenting off and then later setup some other requirements to post to his blog. In the early days of his blog, his arguments were shot down gloriuously with the simplest of logic. Also, he doesn’t write too well. I can see why he got canned. Dead weight, and if you saw a pic of him, you can see why. Biggest claim to fame? “I was the Federal sales guy, and sat in on meetings.” Ooooooh, wow. Really?

  9. After reading the article and also Sobotta’s latest blog (yawned profusely during both), my frist conclusion is that this guy can’t keep a job or decide what he really wants to do in life. I see no technical or marketing reason to even consider his prognostications are valid except in his own mind and only then when he is grunting and straining to make a big push in the loo. (as in what a load of crap is this).

    My bit of a bob.

    What will we see in 4 days 20 hours 10 minutes?

    What ever his Steveness wants us to see – no more; no less.

    What do I hope for?

    Apple phone – whatever you want to call it, just make it work with a Mac and NOT primarily with dot mac.
    Bluetooth compatible headphones for my iPod that also works with the Apple phone.
    Hell, even headphones from Apple that really work – that would be a switch!
    Some way to actually stream Video from my confuser to my home entertainment systems around the house – iTV ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />
    Safari actually working.
    A Spreadsheet kind of inclusion in iWork ’07 – and Pages actually graduating into a real WP programme.
    Leopard released in 1st Quarter – BIG dream.
    His Royal Steveness bithch slapping Ballmer on stage for the entertainment value rather than having some lameass singing – again…

    My $2 worth…

  10. I generally agree with Tergenev’s post but then then he states this bit of ironic conventional wisdom:

    “I’d love it if somebody in the American auto industry had shown this kind of honesty and brass to the heads of General Motors in the past decade. Maybe they would have started building something other than behemoth gas-guzzlers”

    The conventional wisdom is that there is something wrong with SUVs. A belief that is based on one’s personal morals rather than evidence. What makes Tergenev’s statement even more ridiculous is the one bright spot at GM over the last decade IS THE SUV! This line of vehicles has essentially kept their ship afloat. They meet a need the public demands, they are well designed and built, and they are sold at a high profit margin. Someone telling a GM exec to discontinue such a product would be pure idiocy.

  11. Whatever is announced it will initially exist only within the US.

    The complete absence of teasers on other sites worlwide is evidence of this.
    Local sites usually change within 24 hours of the main site if that market will be involved.
    It is therefore likely that a Telecom or TV service is a major part of this and it is likely that everything will be turned on it’s head, Again.

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