Steve Jobs initially opposed third-party apps for iPhone; ‘annoyed and depressed’ over public reaction to iPad

Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography of Steve Jobs is like a loose-fitting diaper; it’s leaking all over the place.

“Isaacson also recounts the birth of Apple’s iconic products and Jobs’ role as a visionary in crafting the devices. There was one feature that Jobs initially opposed, however, that has since become a cornerstone for the company: apps,” Bianca Bosker reports for The Huffington Post. “Apple board member Art Levinson told Isaacson that he phoned Jobs ‘half a dozen times to lobby for the potential of the apps,’ but, according to Isaacson, ‘Jobs at first quashed the discussion, partly because he felt his team did not have the bandwidth to figure out all the complexities that would be involved in policing third-party app developers.’

“The launch of the iPad proved to be its own challenge for Jobs. The lukewarm reception it received at its launch — which included more than 800 emails from users to Jobs — ‘annoyed and depressed’ the then-CEO,” Bosker reports. “‘I kind of got depressed today,’ Jobs told Isaacson the night after the iPad launched. ‘It knocks you back a bit.'”

More leakage in the full article here.

Nick Wingfield and Damon Darlin blog more leaks from Steve Jobs for The New York Times, “Mr. Rubinstein, the engineer and former Apple senior vice president who played an important role in the creation of the iPod, chafed against Jonathan Ive, Apple’s industrial design guru, over design changes by Mr. Ive that could have meant product delays. Mr. Jobs sided with Ive, and Mr. Rubinstein left the company in 2006. In the book, Mr. Jobs couldn’t resist what amounted to a harsh put-down coming from him, saying that, ‘In the end, Ruby’s from H.P.’ Mr. Rubinstein worked at Hewlett-Packard early in his career and was later chief executive officer of Palm, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard.”

“In a chapter about the music Mr. Jobs most admired, he chided an unusual target: the singer and guitarist John Mayer. Mr. Jobs knew Mr. Mayer, who performed at an Apple product introduction in 2004,” Wingfield and Darlin report. “While Mr. Jobs spoke with admiration of Mr. Mayer’s guitar-playing, he told the author that the artist is ‘out of control’ and could be ‘blowing it big time.’ There’s no explanation in the book of what prompted Mr. Jobs’s concerns.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Steve Jobs via Apple’s iBookstore (U.S.16.99) here: Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Why I’ll be buying an Apple iPad – along with millions of others – January 27, 2010


    1. People were saying:
      It needs to have a larger screen so you can see a full size document at full size.
      It needs to have a smaller screen so you can put it into your pocket.
      It needs to have an SDHC slot so I can directly load images from my camera.
      It needs to have an HDMI port to hook up to my TV.
      It needs to have a USB port so I can hook up an external hard drive.
      It needs to have a USB port so I can hook up a third party keyboard and mouse.
      It needs an Ethernet port to hook directly up to my wired LAN.
      It needs to have a high resolution camera facing away from the user for taking photos.
      It needs to have a high resolution camera facing the user for Facetime and other videoconferencing applications.
      It needs to support Flash.
      It needs to allow uploading files and apps without using a PC or Mac.
      It needs to be 100% divested from iTunes (aka, iTunes availability is OK, but tight iTunes integration is NOT).
      It needs to be less expensive (aka, being able to compete on price with the $300-$400 netbooks).
      It needs to natively support 1080p/30 (as a minimum, but preferably 1080p60) H.264 video.
      It needs a removable battery.

      And the list goes on and on and on and on.

      There were so many, many cries of “but it doen’t have/support XYZ feature” that the fact that it was a world changing device was, for a time, getting lost.

      Part of what saved the iPad was that it was introduced. People screamed. Samples were sent out to people over the next few months. Those people tried them — AND FOUND OUT HOW GREAT IT WAS AS IS. Then even before it started shipping the “but it doesn’t have” crowd got narrowed down to the died in the wool Apple haters. By the time it shipped virtually everyone else saw its huge potential.

  1. How is this news? Don’t we remember how Apple wanted everyone to use web apps when the first iPhone was released? I found those stories from a few weeks back laughable when they claimed that Apple would be destroyed by the raise of web apps. That was Apple’s original plan!!

    1. Which always puzzled me about how tech pundits (I’m looking at you Laporte,) went ga-ga over programming the WebOS using web-apps. They are the same people beating up Apple because it wouldn’t allow real apps.

      1. Yup. Witness the bozos who think Google’s “Cloud!” ideas will make apps irrelevant. Same bozos who derided Jobs attempts to make web apps the default on the iPhone.

    2. The news is that there’s a lot of Apple fans on MDN and elsewhere who said after apps came along that apps and an app store were planned all along, just that a developer-friendly SDK was not ready when the iPhone was first released.

      This now proves that the app store was NOT planned from day 1, Jobs was mistaken about refusing dedicated apps, and Apple was (very) lucky Jobs changed his mind in time to start building the app store infrastructure and SDK to hook developers before Android arrived in force.

    3. Yep, this should hopefully silence those who insist the App Store was always part of Apple’s plan. Anyone who was paying attention knows it wasn’t.

  2. I didnt email jobs when the iPad was launched… But count me as one of those “laughing” at it..

    Then I played with one.
    Then I bought one.
    Then I bought a second…

    Now I can’t see myself without it.
    Jobs knew I needed one, he just had to put it in my hands to prove it. Pure genius.

    1. Me 3 – The iPad was a paradigm shift which most people can’t really understand. That is why there was such a negative reaction to it in the beginning – then people got their hands on them and nothing stops that freight train….

    2. I didn’t email, or laugh. I thought the iPad would sell ok to a few soccer moms, but definitely wouldn’t be something I’d want or that would sell anywhere near the level it did.

      And of course…

      Then I played with one.
      Then I bought one.
      Then I bought a second…

      Now I can’t see myself without it.

  3. It’s easy to be picked off when you’re leading way out front to the sniveling back stabbing cowards behind you. Steve Jobs was man enough to make mid-course corrections to his visions when it became obvious to him. Remember how late to the party Jobs was putting CD burners in Macs and later admitted it? I still think Blu-Ray shoulda been an option even if disc players are starting to become less necessary.

  4. “While Mr. Jobs spoke with admiration of Mr. Mayer’s guitar-playing, he told the author that the artist is ‘out of control’ and could be ‘blowing it big time.’ There’s no explanation in the book of what prompted Mr. Jobs’s concerns.”
    Probably this:
    John Mayer’s comments about how good Jessica Simpson is in the sack ticked her off majorly – guess some things need to remain private!

  5. I think the iPad is one of the biggest examples of the genius that is Apple design.

    I remember when it first launched and all I heard was the press knocking it right along with the competition.

    “Its just a big iphone”
    “It has no keyboard”
    “It is a ‘toy’ and you cannot do real work on it”

    I was very skeptical. Then I tried one.

    Yes I am buying one soon. I primarily want it due to the success it has shown in children who are autistic, however I’m sure I’ll play with it myself… I mean the kids go to bed eventually right?

    That is the beauty of Apple’s design to me… Once you sit down and use something made by Apple you have this realization that it is so much more than your initial impressions.

    1. IPad is amazing. Hardly use my Mac any more, about 90% of what I did on Mac I now do on iPad and enjoy it so much more!

      The experience is so intimate an intuitive. I never have to help my wife on the iPad, she just gets it!!!

      1. I have a family member who was an extreme MS fanboi. I mean bad. To the point that if you said “google it” he’d reply “You mean bing it”.

        Called him the other night and he wouldn’t shut up about his new ipad.

        I told him he could mirror to his tv with an apple tv and he literally ordered one while talking to me on the phone.

        To top our conversation off he said he just traded his winphone 7 in for an iphone.

        I was a bit stunned honestly. This guy used to LOVE talking about how apple made boxes for braindead idiots.

        He didnt say bing once during our call either.

        I kinda like this alien being who has taken up residence in his body. The guy didn’t seem like a douchebag for the first time in 10 years.

        1. My brother in law is similar.
          Always said the iPad was a toy and it could never ever replace a laptop. Ever.
          After his regional boss spent 2 days with him, the guy had replaced his laptop with an iPad and iPhone… My brother in law is changing his tune. He’s not 100% sold that the iPad would be all he needs but he is finally seeing the truth.

    2. I was just at Costco and noticed Samsung is dumping the Tab 10.1 or whatever it’s called at $479.00. It’s parked next to the Vizio tablets that no one is buying.

  6. If you’ve ever created something, you know about the postpartum blues that ensue.

    Jobs’ reaction could have partly been attributed to that. It could also have been caused by the effects of whatever cancer treatment he was undergoing.

  7. Why do I get the feeling that Mr. Isaacson captured the moments and the words, but not the insights and understanding.

    Case in point, about Apps. Art Levinson had asked Steve to allow Apps. Steve may have intended all along to allow Apps, but that intention and plans are on the need to know basis only. Maybe it was a closely guarded secret, as you know the APIs, policies and development tools aren’t built overnight.

    Anyway, I’m only guessing on the snippets; maybe reading the book will provide more context. I sure wish all these leaks from the book would stop though.

  8. Frankly I was surprised at the lukewarm reception for the iPad; i thought it was brilliant – a screen big enough to really use iOS, but not some monitor that sits across a desk from you that makes touch screens impractical.

    The reaction reminded me of when Apple introduced the iPod. Apple was slammed with “so what, it’s just another mp3 player” articles. No one realized how much the iPod would affect people and how we listen to music, particularly because it was tied to iTunes.

    It’s almost like when Apple introduces a new product and the initial reaction is ho-hum, then you know Apple has a revolutionary hit on its hands. (Gee, the iPhone 4S with Siri had quite the lukewarm reception, didn’t it?)

  9. Also recall that Jobs was insistent that the original iPhone would not have 3rd party apps (like we have apps today), but that everything would be web-based apps (just like Palm tried to do). Within a year that changed, and the App Store was created.

    Sometimes the initial vision turns out to not work the way you wanted, but Jobs could obviously be persuaded to others’ ideas. And that’s why Apple will continue to prosper without him. He built a team as dedicated to producing the great products as he was, and in fact, some of the best ideas for the iPhone/iOS came from people other than Jobs.

  10. Ruby’s from H.P.

    And so was Woz.

    And without Woz, where would Jobs have been? For that matter, how about those components 12 year old Steve Jobs got from Bill Hewlett?)

    (Hint: There would be no Apple.)

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.