Did Steve Jobs lie to the NY Times?

iPod nano - NOW shoots video. Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt asks, “Did Steve Jobs lie to the NY Times?”

Oh, wait, without noting it, Fortune just changed the headline to “Did Steve Jobs spin the NY Times?” (The original still shows up via Google.)

Lie. Spin. Whatever. Who doesn’t do either to The New York Times? It’s certainly no crime. Let’s be real: The way we read it, the thing is full of lies, half-truths, and spin.

Here’s the story: Jobs told the Times, “Originally, we weren’t exactly sure how to market the Touch. Was it an iPhone without the phone? Was it a pocket computer? What happened was, what customers told us was, they started to see it as a game machine. We started to market it that way, and it just took off. And now what we really see is it’s the lowest-cost way to the App Store, and that’s the big draw. So what we were focused on is just reducing the price to $199. We don’t need to add new stuff. We need to get the price down where everyone can afford it.”

But, Elmer-Dewiit reports, “But according to AppleInsider’s Kasper Jade, citing unnamed sources familiar with Apple’s decision making process, that’s simple not true… It was a bad part, not cost or marketing considerations, that kept the camera off the iPod touches introduced this week.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: To us, it seems obvious that Jobs was spinning and that iPod touch was supposed to get a camera (third-party cases were made for 3rd-gen touches with camera holes in them, for crying out loud), but, hey, it didn’t make the cut. As CEO, Jobs can’t really come out and say: “The cameras didn’t work, but they’re coming” or he’d freeze the important holiday shopping market for iPod touches. Duh.

Where’s the “lie?”

Here are Jobs’ words, broken down into sentences with our parenthetical assessments:
• Originally, we weren’t exactly sure how to market the Touch. (Could be true)
• Was it an iPhone without the phone? (A simple question)
• Was it a pocket computer? (A simple question)
• What happened was, what customers told us was, they started to see it as a game machine. (True as long as at least 2 or more customers told Apple as much)
• We started to market it that way, and it just took off. (True)
• And now what we really see is it’s the lowest-cost way to the App Store, and that’s the big draw. (True)
• So what we were focused on is just reducing the price to $199. (Could be true)
• We don’t need to add new stuff. (Opinion of one of the greatest marketers and product developers of all time)
• We need to get the price down where everyone can afford it. (Opinion of one of the greatest marketers and product developers of all time)

So, Jobs simply said what he had to say, but there’s no lie in his words – which is probably why Fortune changed their headline so quickly.

59 Comments

  1. Wait – is the Touch so different from the iPhone that a case maker would need to create different versions of its product? What’s not to say that the pictures of the proposed Touch case (with camera) couldn’t also be for the iPhone (which has a camera)?
    I’m confused . .

  2. I also immediately felt the “So what we were focused on is just reducing the price to $199.” claim was false, simply because they are offering the last-generation iPod touch 8GB at that price point anyway. They could have put the cameras on the updated 32 and 64GB units without affecting the $199 price point of the 8GB units.

  3. RC have you seen the iPod touch and compared it to the iPhone? Huge difference in thickness and weight. There’s certainly no guarantee that a part that fits in the iPhone would work would fit into the iPod touch.

  4. @Mormegil

    Yeah, they are different. The iPod touch has the “sleep” button in a different spot on the top and the headphone jack is at the bottom near the home button, next to the USB port.

    And the iPod touch is thinner, .33″ for the touch and .48″ for the iPhone.

  5. Of course it was spin and subterfuge, and of course he gave the interview to Pogue who would dutifully throw him softies and not follow up. And of course someone is in a snit for pointing out the obvious.

    “The Press, Watson, is a most valuable institution, if you know how to use it.”
    –Sherlock Holmes

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