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Apple's All Time Low

An exclusive interview with Steve Jobs. On the transfer to Intel and other things. By Ian Malcolm.

IM: Good morning Steve! How are things?
SJ: Things are peachy. Couldn't be better.

IM: Now you own a big chunk of Disney.
SJ: That's right. I almost forgot.

IM: You still divide your time between Apple and Pixar?
SJ: Not as much as before. The Pixar crew are very capable.

IM: And the Apple crew?
SJ: They need my leadership.

IM: OK, let's get serious. Tell us why the move to Intel.
SJ: Intel provide the best roadmap for us.

IM: How is that?
SJ: Intel provide us with the processing power we need.

IM: Processing power? Intel?
SJ: I hate that word.

IM: Which - 'processing', 'power', or 'Intel'?
SJ: 'Power'. I certainly don't hate the word 'Intel'.

IM: Or 'processing'.
SJ: Or 'processing'.

IM: But was there something wrong with IBM?
SJ: Wrong with IBM? No.

IM: Is there something Intel can do but IBM can't?
SJ: Yes. Provide us with the processing capability we need.

IM: 'Processing capability'.
SJ: Those words are OK.

IM: But didn't you say - over and over again - that the PowerPC was better?
SJ: I might have. I really don't remember. But it wasn't true. Intel is better.

IM: OK - moving along: there are those who say you rushed too fast to Intel.
SJ: Who's saying that?

IM: A lot of people. You beat your own schedule by half a year.
SJ: Yes we did. I'm very proud of our organisation for making that effort.

IM: I have some questions about that I'll defer until later.
SJ: OK.

IM: So what were the biggest obstacles to moving to Intel?
SJ: Rubinstein and Tevanian.

IM: Jon Rubinstein and Avie Tevanian?
SJ: Right.

IM: How were they an obstacle? How was Jon Rubinstein an obstacle?
SJ: Jon was - is - a 'quality' man.

IM: He built your NeXT computers.
SJ: Exactly. He got in the way.

IM: Got in the way?
SJ: Do you have to repeat everything I say?

IM: What do you mean by saying Jon Rubinstein got in the way?
SJ: I mean he got in the way. I transferred him to the iPod.

IM: Yes, about two and one half years ago. Why?
SJ: So he wouldn't be in the way anymore.

IM: He quit recently.
SJ: Of course. That was the idea. Tevanian quit too.

IM: Was Tevanian in the way too?
SJ: Of course. Now we have Bertrand running the show.

IM: Bertrand Serlet? He was with you in Redwood City.
SJ: Yes. But he doesn't think the same way.

IM: Bertrand's better than Avie?
SJ: Of course. We moved Avie out too.

IM: 'Moved out'?
SJ: Here you go again.

IM: How did you move Avie Tevanian out?
SJ: The same way I moved Jon out. Horizontal promotion.

IM: And he quit just like Jon Rubinstein.
SJ: Of course. That was the whole idea.

IM: And now things are better?
SJ: Of course. They've never been this good before.

IM: Your critics would beg to differ with you, Steve.
SJ: That's just shit. They'd be wrong.

IM: They say you're losing market share.
SJ: That's just shit. We're not losing market share.

IM: Market analysts have you declining to 2%.
SJ: That's just shit.

IM: They say if you didn't have the iPod you'd go under.
SJ: That's total shit. And we do have the iPod.

IM: Yes, you do have the iPod - but for how long?
SJ: As long as we want.

IM: What about Sony and their Walkman?
SJ: Sony and the Walkman are not applicable here.

IM: And the European protests against your DRM?
SJ: What about them? I couldn't care less about Europe.


IM: Personally or from a business perspective?
SJ: Both.

IM: But most of your revenues come from overseas.
SJ: That's just shit. It's not true.

IM: You once said OS X would be around ten years.
SJ: Yes I did. Ten years. The lifetime of an operating system.

IM: Those ten years are about up, Steve.
SJ: Yes they are. And we're ready.

IM: You have a new operating system?
SJ: Yes. It will be out in December.

IM: Can you tell us anything about it?
SJ: Only the name. It's called 'Leopard'.

IM: There are people who claim Apple have never been in such a slump.
SJ: They'd be wrong.

IM: They point out that not a single laptop is working correctly.
SJ: That's just shit. That's not something I'm aware of.

IM: The online forums are full of reports of issues with the laptops.
SJ: That's just shit. That's not something I'm aware of.

IM: There are also those who say you've destroyed OS X.
SJ: That's just shit. If anything we've made it better.

IM: There are those who say you have no security policy.
SJ: That's just shit. We so have a security policy. Ask Bud.

IM: Bud? Bud Tribble?
SJ: Bud Tribble.

IM: What's your relationship with Bud?
SJ: Bud works for Apple.

IM: He was on the original Macintosh project, correct?
SJ: Yes.

IM: And then when you went to Redwood City he followed along, correct?
SJ: Yes he did.

IM: But then in the 1990s he suddenly left and went to Sun?
SJ: I can't recall.

IM: Well he did.
SJ: If you say so. I don't see where this is leading.

IM: It's leading to his involvement in the OpenStep deal.
SJ: 'OpenStep deal'?

IM: Now you're repeating everything I say.
SJ: What's 'OpenStep' and what deal?

IM: Sun Microsystems wanted to buy 'OpenStep'.
SJ: They did?

IM: Yes. It's a matter of record.
SJ: Fine. Great. You can't know how happy I am to hear that.

IM: And the exec at Sun who pushed the deal through was Bud Tribble.
SJ: I had no idea.

IM: Bud convinced Sun to enter into a joint venture with you.
SJ: With me?

IM: With NeXT. NeXT Software.
SJ: To do what?

IM: To create the platform independent NeXTSTEP.
SJ: Which was OpenStep?

IM: Exactly.
SJ: See - I'm learning something new every day.

IM: But then by 1996 Apple were in deep trouble.
SJ: I remember that vaguely, yes.

IM: And Gil Amelio was negotiating with you, Be, and Microsoft.
SJ: Gil? How's Gil? That's a nice guy.

IM: Yes it is.
SJ: What was he negotiating for?

IM: For an operating system.
SJ: 'Operating system'?

IM: There you go again.
SJ: What did Gil want with an operating system?

IM: The same thing anyone wants with it.
SJ: So he talked to Be and to Microsoft and to me?

IM: It's a matter of record.
SJ: OK.

IM: And about the same time a number of curious things happened.
SJ: I can't wait to hear what they are.

IM: Suddenly the OpenStep project at Sun folded...
SJ: OK...

IM: Then someone got Brad Cox to sell his Objective-C...
SJ: I'd heard that, yes.

IM: Sell it to you...
SJ: Really?

IM: For without freeing Objective-C and OpenStep, you couldn't come back.
SJ: I couldn't?

IM: No. Apple wanted NeXTSTEP - not you.
SJ: That's just shit.

IM: It's true. You needed to free them so you could bargain.
SJ: So what if that's true?

IM: I'm not sure but it's interesting.
SJ: For you maybe.

IM: Your laptops.
SJ: They're great.

IM: There are issues.
SJ: That's just shit.

IM: They overheat.
SJ: No they don't. All laptops get hot.

IM: Then why do they call them laptops?
SJ: Beats me.

IM: The IBM G3s and the G4s weren't hot.
SJ: I like that way you avoided the 'P' word.

IM: Thank you.
SJ: And no: they didn't get hot. But so what?

IM: They've recorded 95 degrees Celsius.
SJ: OK. Fine. So what?

IM: That's just five degrees under boiling water.
SJ: Boiling water is two hundred twelve degrees.

IM: In Fahrenheit, yes.
SJ: In what?

IM: They discolour too.
SJ: Who do?

IM: Your new Intel laptops.
SJ: That's just shit. They don't discolour.

IM: One customer installed his in his fridge.
SJ: OK.

IM: But it wouldn't work otherwise. It overheated.
SJ: That's just shit. The new line of laptops are great.

IM: And there's the thermal grease issue.
SJ: The what?

IM: The thermal grease. It's applied ferociously.
SJ: It is? What is thermal grease?

IM: There are those who say it's deliberate.
SJ: Who says that?

IM: Forum posters.
SJ: At our forums? [Reaches for cellphone.]

IM: Mostly not. Other forums.
SJ: Oh. [Relaxes. Puts cellphone back.]

IM: They say it's done deliberately to ruin the laptops.
SJ: That's just shit.

IM: Apple still haven't commented.
SJ: There's nothing to comment on.

IM: So have you stopped abusing thermal grease?
SJ: No comment.

IM: Are you still applying litres of thermal grease?
SJ: No comment.

IM: People aren't happy with your crass attitude, Steve.
SJ: I could care less. They'll come around. Those suckers always do. Hehe.

IM: They whine.
SJ: They're always whining. Fuck 'em.

IM: No - the laptops whine.
SJ: No they don't. That's just shit.

IM: They moo too.
SJ: They moo?

IM: You're doing it again.
SJ: Anyway: I couldn't care less. The new line of laptops are great.

IM: Would you say they're in the pantheon of Apple hardware?
SJ: Absolutely.

IM: Do you yourself use an Intel laptop?
SJ: [Squirms in seat.] Uh - no. No. No I don't.

IM: What do you use?
SJ: I still have my AlBook. G4. Seventeen inch.

IM: You've no ambition to upgrade?
SJ: Maybe someday. The machine I have is fine.

IM: OK.
SJ: But there are some funky lines on the screen.

IM: On the - the AlBook screen?
SJ: Thanks.

IM: I caught myself in time.
SJ: I noticed that.

IM: Something's wrong with your laptop screen.
SJ: Yes. And I got hit by Oompa.

IM: You got hit by Oompa?
SJ: Oompa Loompa. The worm. I got hit by it.

IM: Really!
SJ: Using IM and it came in that way.

IM: Any damage?
SJ: Considerable. But it's all fixed now.

IM: That's good to hear.
SJ: And some of the keys eroded.

IM: At least you have a real keyboard.
SJ: True.

IM: And it doesn't whine.
SJ: Nope.

IM: And it doesn't overheat.
SJ: [Grins.] Cool as a cucumber.

IM: And it doesn't discolour.
SJ: Absolutely not.

IM: And you're running Tiger 10.4.7 of course?
SJ: No. Panther 10.3.9. Tiger's shit. Leaves remnants on the screen.

IM: Remnants on the screen? I've heard something about that.
SJ: It's true. In text fields. And text editors. Really ugly.

IM: And the scroll bar thumbs get truncated or something?
SJ: Yup. That's pretty ugly too.

IM: Panther was cleaner. Tiger's got too many GUI styles.
SJ: I agree. Tiger is a mess. So I stick with Panther 10.3.9.

IM: I think a lot of people right about now would like your laptop, Steve.
SJ: They've been discontinued.

Copyright © The Ian Malcolm Research Institute. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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