Does This Steve Jobs Email Reveal Secret Apple Product Plans?
Like the previous patent-infringement trial between Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung (SSNLF.PK), the current trial is proving to be a rich source of previously unseen internal company documents. Among the various documents introduced into the court record on Friday was a fascinating email written by legendary former Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The email revealed clues about Apple’s product plans in 2010 and provided insight into Jobs’s mindset when it came to dealing with the company’s competitors.
As noted by The Verge, Jobs’s email outlined the topics to be discussed at the company’s next annual “Top 100” meeting. The highly secretive Top 100 meetings gathered Apple’s best executives, managers, and employees together to discuss the company’s products and strategies for the next year. The email consisted of what Jobs called his “current cut” of eleven general topic headings with various bullet points under each heading.
Perhaps one of the most interesting topic headings was “Apple TV 2.” Under the “Apple TV 2” heading Jobs wrote, “Strategy: stay in the living room game and make a great ‘must have’ accessory for iOS devices.” Another bullet point suggested adding content from NBC, CBS (NYSE:CBS), Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA) (NASDAQ:VIAB), and HBO. The next bullet point simply stated “TV subscription?” suggesting that Jobs was already exploring the possibility of enabling the Apple TV product to stream live television shows and currently running programs.
According to unnamed industry sources cited by The Wall Street Journal, Apple is currently in talks with Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) over the possibility of creating a streaming-television service that would bypass congestion caused by public Internet traffic. The proposed service would feature the usual on-demand video content as well as various television channels.
However, Jobs had ambitions for Apple TV that went beyond a streaming-television service. The email also mentioned a “browser” and a “magic wand.” The “browser” presumably referred to an Internet browser for the Apple TV, while the “magic wand” was either a metaphor for the usability of the product or a reference to a still unknown product idea. Jobs shared his concept of a revolutionary Apple television device with his biographer Walter Isaacson. “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” Jobs told Isaacson, according to the Washington Post. “No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine.”
Besides dropping hints about a new type of Apple TV product, Jobs’s email also revealed that Jobs saw Apple as being in a “Holy War” with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). Under a heading titled “iOS,” Jobs noted that the company needed to “catch up to Android where we are behind (notifications, tethering, speech, …) and leapfrog them.”
As noted by The Verge, Samsung’s lawyers were especially interested in that passage because it allows them to portray Apple as a follower rather than an innovator. In the current trial, Apple has accused Samsung of infringing on five of its patents related to the iPhone and is asking for $2 billion in damages. On the other hand, Samsung has accused Apple of infringing on two of its patents with multiple iOS devices and is asking for $6.9 million in damages. The trial continues in federal court on Monday.
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