Steve Jobs was initially opposed to entering the e-book market

“How’s this for irony: Steve Jobs was initially opposed to entering the e-book market over which Apple is now sparring with the U.S. Department of Justice in a Manhattan federal court,” John Paczkowski reports for AllThingsD.

“Testifying in the DOJ’s e-book price-fixing case Thursday, Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, said that when he first approached Jobs with the idea of a bookstore in the fall of 2009, the Apple co-founder dismissed it,” Paczkowski reports. “‘He wasn’t interested,’ Cue said. ‘Steve never felt that the Mac or the iPhone were ideal reading devices. In the case of the phone, the screen was smaller, and in the case of the Mac, you had this keyboard and device, and it didn’t feel like a book.'”

Paczkowski reports, “But as Apple began ramping up for the launch of the iPad, Cue broached the idea again, and Jobs had a change of heart.”

Read more in the full article here.

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7 Comments

  1. He also needed convincing to allow third party apps on the iPhone, among many other decisions that look easy with the benefit of hindsight. That’s why Steve always surrounded himself with the best, an “A Team” as he called it. Just as he made them stronger, they also strengthened him.

    1. I think that one was a clever ploy to keep competitors (like Palm and RIM and Microsoft) from developing a more extensive apps ecosystem, because their platforms were very well-established when iPhone was released.

      During the first year of iPhone, he told third-party developers to create web-based (not native) apps that used Safari. All the while, Apple must have been planning to open the App Store at the start of Year Two, because you don’t just throw together an SDK that is usable by third-party developers, and the whole App Store infrastructure “overnight” (or even within a few months time) without careful planning and execution.

      This was probably the REAL plan. Start selling iPhone with only the built-in apps. Since it is a brand new platform with zero users at the start of Year One, most developers would NOT be motivated to support it right away; so keep plans for the App Store a secret. “Imply” to the world that there are no plans to incorporate third-party native apps.

      THEN, at the next WWDC (start of Year Two), announce the App Store, AFTER there are now millions of iPhone users out there, begging to have third-party apps, and thousands of NOW highly motivated developers. Apple’s competitors were caught by surprise, and they all scrambled to create their own versions of “app stores” as quickly as possible (and THEY failed due to lack of careful planning and execution).

      If that wasn’t the actual plan, it should have been, because it everything could not have worked out better for Apple.

  2. I still think he’s right – Mac and iPhone are not ideal reading devices. The only good reason to read a book on a Mac or iPhone is because you happen to be carrying it. It only really made sense for Apple to get into e-books once they had the iPad. Now that they do, it’s good that Apple is bringing iBooks to other devices for the Apple ecosystem – so if you left your iPad at home, you can keep reading your iBook on whatever Apple device you happen to have with you.

    1. Yes, you are exactly right. The Mac and iPhone would not have been ideal for the launch of an Apple ebooks store. It would therefore be less successful at launch. To Steve Jobs, having a big impact right away was hugely important. (OTOH, Microsoft’s way is to stumble over the start line and try to fix things along the way.)

      Since he could not achieve his desired outcome using Mac and iPhone as the “reading platforms,” he stayed away from it. But iPad provided a MUCH better way to read books, so he then “changed his mind.” I think it was less a change of heart, and more seizing a NEW opportunity provided by iPad.

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