Steve Jobs reportedly offered to let Sony VAIO PCs run Mac OS X, but Sony blew it

“It is well-known that Steve Jobs [was] a Japanophile. It is also well-known that Steve Jobs was a big fan of Sony,” Nobuyuki Hayashi reports for “Apple and Sony [were] in a special relationship all along the way. The two companies had been very close even during Steve Jobs’ absence… The relationship between Apple and Sony became even stronger when Steve Jobs returned to Apple.”

“Most of Sony’s executives spends their winter vacation in Hawaii and play golf after celebrating new year. In one of those new year golf competitions back in 2001, ‘Steve Jobs and another Apple executive were waiting for us at the end of golf course holding VAIO running Mac OS’ recalls recalls Kunitake Ando, the ex-president of Sony, Inc 2001 is the year Mac OS X shipped and I am speculating this is Intel-version of Mac OS X, they hid for four and half years since then,” Hayashi reports. “When Steve Jobs regained the control of Apple back in 1997, one of the first thing he did was to close all the Mac-compatible deals claiming it is destroying Mac’s eco-system… Steve Jobs believed that Mac-compatible business would harm not only Apple’s business but also the ‘Mac’ brand. But that same Steve Jobs was willing to make an exception in 2001. And that exception was Sony’s VAIO.”

“But the timing was bad for Sony, it is just about the time, Sony’s VAIO gained popularity and it is just about the time that VAIO team had finished optimizing both VAIO’s hardware and software specifically for Windows platform. Because of this, most of the VAIO team opposed asking ‘if it is worth it.’ And that was the end of story for this Mac-compatible VAIO,” Hayashi reports. “”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Sony’s blunder ranks right up there among the biggest business mistakes of all time.

Related article:
The amazing true story of Project Marklar; how Mac OS X for Intel was born – June 10, 2012
Apple Mac owns 90% market share for ‘premium’ PCs costing over $1,000 – February 1, 2010


    1. This blunder is not as big as the one involving steve jobs wanting Sony to join them in co-developing the iPod.

      From then on it seems s though Apple was better served doing things in house… Which led to their iPhone… Maybe Sony would have gotten a piece of that had they worked with Steve on the iPod and Vaio.

      Alas, Apple got to keep the $ to themselves, and despite the manipulation of AAPL stock… The company keeps falling backwards into their growing cashpile

  1. There are two systems that I have enjoyed in my “personal computer” experience. Mac and VAIO. I cannot say much for the VAIO laptop, but as far as the desktop I still have one that is over 10 years old and runs like it is brand new. The only other system that can make that claim is Mac, in my opinion. I do have a Gateway quad-core that is still running, but far from new (actually better than new since it was from Worst Buy and had some Freak Squad service done which I had to fix).

  2. Vaio years ago looked a quality laptop and the only one I would have considered if I had been forced the PC route back then. Sadly its just another PC clown these days.

    I do remember when the Sony President was brought on stage years ago and Steve said that he hoped that one day they would wok much closer (maybe even produce ‘computers’ together- is that my mind wandering). Always thought that there was going to be some big cooperation maybe with games announced sometime after that but sadly never happened. These days who would want to associated with Sony, what a sad decline and a lot of that is down to Apple taking over their ‘up market’ location. Big, big error for Sony to have ignored the overtures.

    1. Well, when you own the top end of the PC market, Sony looked at it as sharing with Apple, vs helping Apple achieve additional OSX share. Hard to say Sony got the wrong answer, because the Mac still has a very small market share, and it might not have made sense to add OSX. What Sony didn’t see was iPod and iPhone and what would happen to mobile. If they had any inkling, I’m pretty sure they would have shimmied up to Apple is a much more vigorous way.

    2. Sony’s loss is Apple’s gain, in more ways than one. The Sony brand took a hit a few years after when they included rootkits on audio CDs, if Apple had been associating closely with them their brand might’ve suffered a hit as well, just as the iPod train was gaining steam.

  3. Intel blew it too. They blew Apple to the weeds. They had the opportunity to own the mobile chip market. Intel along with Sony have been put into their rightful, arrogant, corporate greedy, misguided place. WinTel me what you gonna do now?
    Apple NEVER forgets who Fcked them over. Just ask Mikey!
    How’s that Dell stock working’ for ya? Naysayers. Oh yeah!!! thats right…… something about shutting the operation down and?… pffff.

  4. Wouldn’t have made the blindest bit of difference to Sony’s bottom line. Apple must have sold what, less than a million Macs per quarter in 2001? I seem to remember Windows was killing Macs in 2001. No one in school used Macs anyway, except for one or two exceptions, the Macheads we used to call them. Some very small number anyway. Irrelevant to the larger Windows market. Apple still sells less than 5 million Macs per quarter, averaging 4 million per quarter. That’s a minuscule sliver of the total PC market.

    1. Why do I get the feeling that you are slowly becoming an anti Apple type of person? I understand your hate for iOS 7, but it seems to me that you are retroactively using this hate to apply it to what Apple did back a decade ago, and essentially say that Apple deserved it. So…what is it? Does the iOS 7 debacle have its roots in what Apple could have done back in 2001? If you don’t agree with Apple’s decisions, fine, but you don’t have to hate on what Apple did back then, because it is essentially over and done with.

      1. No, I’m saying that even if Apple had employed Sony as a third party contractor to produce Macs, it wouldn’t have affected Sony’s bottom line for even an iota given the small numbers of Macs that were in production then. I think that’s a fact. Not stating an opinion.

        I wish Apple sold more Macs but their pricing policy prevents a larger audience. I’m not advocating cheaper Macs, maybe Macs can be that priced the way they are now but with better specs.

        For example the MacBook Air and retina MacBook Pro could start with 8GB of RAM rather than 4GB and down the line start storage at 256GB rather than 128GB, although I don’t see storage as being as critical to a user’s experience as adequate RAM, given that they’re very fast PCI-e SSDs.

        By increasing the specs, you make more believers in the Mac system because users obtain a better experience. I know that my MBP experience wasn’t helped by the slow 5400 RPM drive they installed but I stuck with it rather than abandon the Mac altogether. I’d like to see more people use Macs, but Apple has to help itself spread the word and make the user experience better by giving higher specced hardware.

        1. But Apple IS helping themselves spread the word about Mac, at least indirectly, through the iPhone and iPad. I know several people who would have never touched a Mac, but now have one, thanks to their exposure to it through either the iPad or the iPhone. They told me they loved how those devices worked and asked me if there was a PC that had a similar user experience. I, naturally, recommended the Mac. It seems to me that you aren’t giving Apple the credit they deserve, and it all points to your diss appointment with iOS 7, which is understandable.

          1. Actually I started using the Mac after I bought the iPhone 4. I loved the experience so much that I bought a Mac because if the iPhone 4 could give me such joy using it, using a Mac must be equally joyful. I love OS X, don’t get me wrong. But if you read here on this forum, there are people complaining that Finder does not populate folders fast enough – it does take a while for folders to show and for file icons to show if they’re movie files. And that is entirely due to the 5400 RPM drive. Once I installed an SSD in my Mac, all these problems went away. The bottom line is specs do have a part to play in how users experience Macs. If Apple had installed a 7200 RPM drive in the MBP, that would have mitigated the folder population problem in Finder. Similarly with 8 GB RAM, that will entirely eliminate RAM page outs in most use cases.

            The halo effect of the iPhone and iPad is very real. At the same time, not providing the best specs for the Mac can sometimes cripple the user experience. And the cost of an additional 4 GB of RAM is $25. For $25, the amount of marketing that people will have by word of mouth alone would justify starting the rMBP & MBA at 8 GB rather than 4 GB of RAM.

            Believe me, I don’t hate Macs because of IOS 7. I love OS X. I hate the idea of giving the user a sub-optimal experience because of some notional cost saving that turns out not to be a cost saving. You’re charging top dollar but you’re not giving the user the best possible experience.

            Again, have you tried ordering a base rMBP with 256 GB storage as a BTO option? You can’t. You have to order the next model up. That’s just silly in my opinion.

            1. Fair enough, and I understand your disappointment with iOS 7. I will admit, I was skeptical about Jony Ives designing the OS. When I first saw screen grabs of the new OS, I thought it was unappealing, and a bit gaudy, but I grew to like it. I also really liked how it is referencing mid-century modern aesthetics, it is very evocative of 1960s graphic design, which I really love about it. I think the problem is that you have the iPhone 4. I have one too, and I will say that iOS 7 has been slightly buggy on my device. I have heard that it works better on the iPhone 5, so if you updated to a newer phone, maybe you might have a different opinion on the OS.

            2. I have since upgraded to an iPhone 5 (not 5S). I also have the iPad Air.

              The trouble with iOS 7 isn’t so much on the surface affecting the user experience but if you drill down to the apps that follow iOS 7 design guidelines, the user experience is severely affected.

              I used to use Pages & Numbers (for iOS 6) very frequently because they were a joy to use. It was easy to navigate, find my way around and be really impressed with the eye popping visuals. Now that Pages & Numbers (for iOS 7) follow the flattened aesthetic, using them have been a painful experience. Menu items are hard to find, the whole experience feels flat, like when you remove the fizz from a soda bottle.

              Consequently, I don’t use iWork as much as I used to. And Calendar is completely unusable. What good has iOS 7 wrought? I can’t see anything positive about it at all.

            3. I am sorry that you did not get much out of your experience with iOS 7. For me, I have had a completely different experience. All of my previous apps still work great in iOS 7 and my productivity has increased tenfold. I also really love the improved MDN app as well . Hopefully, your experience with iOS gets better. I agree that iOS 7 is far from perfect. Since I still have iPhone 4, it can get buggy at times, and I don’t have the money at the moment to upgrade, so I have no idea what the OS is like on the 5 or 5S. But the positives, at least for me, outweigh the negatives in many ways.

            4. Exactly right, if Apple put more memory and faster HDD’s in there systems the user experience would be much more positive. When ever we purchase a Mac at work we upgrade the memory and HDD. That is wearing thin and we have started to move to PC’s at work even though I don’t support that position. They feel for the price the Mac should perform at that level. Shouldn’t have to order memory/HDD upgrades on top of the system they just bought.
              Apple could easily remedy this with little change to there bottom line, actually word of mouth would make it a positive change.

  5. I can’t see it being a great move for Apple, his original assertion was likely correct, it would probably have cannibalised Mac sales. It was probably for the best really, especially then, in comparison to windows I don’t think OS X alone was as big a factor for the public as it is is now. OS X was better than Windows, but windows has regressed so much that I think the difference is much larger now, and people are actively looking to get away from it more widely.

  6. What a great story. Who remembers that tidbit way back when, never to name your hard drive .sony and that Steve Jobs never wanted to be like Microsoft but rather like Sony.

  7. IBM was trying to port NeXTSTEP parts to run on AIX in 1987. “Although NeXT got some money from IBM, it did not got a chance to become a major operating system developer and change the landscape of the computing industry forever.” Eventually, the project did not succeed. Otherwise, IBM would remain as leader in the computer industry (perhaps with Jobs as iCEO) and doesn’t have to sell it’s PC and now the server business to Chinese Lenove. NeXT finally became a part of Apple, NeXTSTEP transformed into the Mac OS X; the rest is history.

  8. Wow, the Jobs myth grows. Watch the WWDC 1997 video. Steve Jobs wanted to extend licensing Mac OS to all hardware companies, but he says that the others running Apple want to shut it down and keep it Apple only. Had Jobs got his way it would’ve ruined the company.

  9. Actually, Sony did make a laptop that ran MacOS, I used to have one. Likely quite a few of you did, too.

    It was the PowerBook 100, designed and manufactured by Sony, working with the Apple design group. This was back in 1991, a project kicked off by John Sculley.

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