The Steve Jobs Negotiating Strategy: My Way or the Highway


Many of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) email records are now publicly available for perusal thanks to the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust lawsuit against the Cupertino-based company. Naturally, some of the most interesting emails are the ones written by Apple’s legendary CEO Steve Jobs.

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While Apple may dispute the government’s assertion that these emails prove that Steve Jobs was engaged in orchestrating an e-book price-fixing conspiracy, no one can dispute that these emails prove that Jobs was a masterful negotiator. In fact, Jobs appears to be so good at negotiating that he never seems to yield an inch to his adversaries, who eventually capitulate without earning a single concession.

Case in point is Steve Jobs’s negotiation with News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS) executive James Murdoch. At the time Apple was trying to work out a favorable e-book deal with HarperCollins, which was owned by News Corp.

Essentially, Apple was seeking across-the-board e-book pricing at $12.99, which was $3 more than Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) standard e-book price of $9.99. Apple was also seeking a 30 percent cut of each sale and “holdback” rights if HarperCollins couldn’t agree on a particular e-book price with Apple.