My One Good Steve Jobs Anecdote

A few hours ago, Apple announced that Steve Jobs had passed away.

While I had the opportunity to see Steve present seven keynotes – two MWNY, five WWDC – the one anecdote I have is about what didn’t happen at one of those keynotes. (It’s admittedly second-hand information and I never personally verified it, but I subscribe to the Tony Wilson/24 Hour Party People notion of choosing between the truth and the legend.)

People who have been reading this blog for ages will remember that in January of 2004, I traveled to Macworld San Francisco to work the Freeverse booth; the main title we were pushing was ToySight, our somewhat-ahead-of-its-time camera controlled minigame collection. It won Best Of Show, and many hours were spent flapping my arms to show the game off to people.

Despite the long-standing belief that Apple has never given a damn about games on the platform, they did – slightly. To that end, there was an Apple Games team, focused on developer relations, and at the time run by Rich Hernandez. (Rich was a great guy, and has since moved on to Microsoft.) Rich really liked ToySight, and wanted to see what he could do to see if it could be included in the keynote that year.

So Rich started trying to get it up the chain, showing it to his bosses, and their bosses, and their bosses still. Everyone loved it. It eventually reached the top tier – being reviewed by Steve for inclusion.

After being shown the game, or at least told about it, Steve’s reaction was apparently one of full interest, on one condition: that Phil Schiller be the one to demo it on stage. Long time Apple fans may recall Phil having to jump off a ledge holding an iBook to demonstrate the build quality, so I suppose this was part of Steve’s general love of making Phil look silly on stage.

Phil, regrettably, refused. The demo slot instead went to Aspyr for a Tony Hawk port. And so we grumbled and silently cursed Phil under our breath for denying us our brief shining moment at the keynote. But I love that thought of Steve: so ready to find ways to rib his team and push them out of their comfort zone.

(Thanks to Bruce Morrison for reminding me of this story.)

In all the rush to label him with titles like “this generation’s Edison”, I think people have missed half of Steve’s worth. He certainly brought innovation after innovation to the marketplace, showed the world that the conventional wisdom for how the tech industry “had” to run was flawed, and rebuilt a company on the verge of bankruptcy into the biggest technology company in the world. But just as importantly, he has served as a hero, a role model, and inspiration to a tremendous portion of the technology sector (myself included). It’s not just the products Apple brought to market under Steve’s leadership that will be felt for generations to come, but the products of the people he inspired.

It goes without saying that I will miss him greatly.

Some other reactions worth reading: Walt Mossberg, Pat Kiernan, Brian Lam.


Silently Protest This

On Tuesday, Dec. 16, Apple Inc. announced that Steve Jobs would not do the keynote at the 2009 Macworld Conference & Expo. That’s okay.

They also announced that they would no longer attend the conference in the future. That’s actually also okay. Apple doesn’t run the Macworld Expo, has never run the Macworld Expo, and for years has been appearing at the event because it was the easiest way for them to get press coverage, albeit at a great cost. But Apple no longer has an issue getting press coverage, and so they have outgrown the utility of going to Macworld San Francisco, much like they did in 2002 with Macworld New York.

Some people don’t feel that’s okay. Some people are so upset, they feel that such a decision is worth staging a protest against.

For 25 years, a very feral and cultish Mac community – some call them MacMacs – have swarmed the halls of Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA to see, obnoxiously line up for, and collectively drool over the products they love. By announcing their departure from this otherwise pointless trade show (really, there is little point for most people to attending MWSF if Apple isn’t there) Apple is signaling to the entire community that people now have a chance to froth at the mouth and act personally insulted that you will no longer be able to pay to hear someone announce products.

If you’re attending the Macworld Expo keynote on Tuesday, Jan. 6, you aren’t sending a message to Apple by remaining silent during the 2009 keynote. While Phil Schiller is on the stage, if you’re sitting in the audience, even if you sit on your hands, duct tape your mouth shut, and hold your breath, you’re not sending a message to Apple.

You know how you send a message to Apple? The same way you send a message to other companies: you stop buying their products. You stop worshipping the company and/or the products and/or Steve Jobs.

My name is Dan Dickinson, and I’m tired of fanboys.



Keynote Coverage

Musical selections: Some hip-hop track, Vertigo by U2, Technologic by Daft Punk, Speed of Sound by Coldplay, the track from the old Macworld iPod ads.

Video coverage of the attendees shows someone with a Windows tablet (slight booing), someone holding up a laptop that says “JIMMY!” on the screen (cheering), someone holding up an iSight to record (laughter), jugglers (what the hell?), Woz (applause).
10:01 and the “program about to begin” sign shows up. 10:03, copyright notice with “Product specifications are subject to change without notice.”

Steve is out, NO JEANS! “Today’s an important day.”

Conference stats:

– 3,800+ attendees, largest in the last decade
– 45 countries, including China and India
– 110 lab sessions, 39 hands-on sessions
– 95 presentation sessions
– 500+ Apple engineers on-site
– 400+ Design Award entries
– 500,000 ADC members

Retail update:

– 109 stores around the world
– 1 million visitors per week
– $500M in third party products in the last year
– Shows the London store, says it’s “phenominal”
– Video shown at a real estate convention made by the retail team. (Music: Rubberneckin’ Oakenfold Remix.)
– $2 billion in sales by the fourth year
– Average earnings of $4000 per square foot

iPod/iTMS update:

– Know you’ve entered popular culture when you’re on the cover of the New Yorker.
– 16 million iPods sold at the end of last quarter total.
– 76% of the entire MP3 market (including flash and hd-based).
– 430 million songs sold on iTMS to date.
– iTMS owns 82% of the marketshare for online music sales in May 2005.
– Podcasting coming in iTunes 4.9
– Steve elaborates on the “Wayne’s World for radio”; he meant you can do it without a lot of capital.
– Calls it the “hottest thing in radio”.
– Gives a list of the major companies that have jumped on Podcasting.
– You *can* type URLs into iTunes 4.9
– New Podcast item in the source list.
– Quick and easy way to grab new podcasts.
– Apple is going to be doing podcasts of new music weekly. As you scrub through the podcast, the artwork changes – big applause. Shows chapter functionality too.
– Expects this to take podcasting mainstream.

Mac general update:

– Growth rates, year-over-year: PC growth rate has gone from 18% to 13%, Mac growth rate has gone from 8% to 42%.
– Today: QT7 Windows Preview release.
– Over a billion QT downloads over its lifetime.
– Tiger is the “best release we’ve ever shipped”.
– This week, Apple will deliver the 2 millionth copy of Tiger (includes retail/maintenance/new Macs).
– Dashboard widget demo
– Uses Business Week widget to look up top stories about Apple to laughter.
– Gets another Longhorn dig in with the countdown widget.
– Tiger represents 16% of OS X user base. Panther is 49%, Jaguar is 25%, 10.0/1 are 10%. Expects Tiger to be 50% for this time next year.
– Next release of OS X will be Leopard. No focus at the conference today. Intend to release it at the end of 2006/early 2007, right around the Longhorn release.


– There is a TON of muttering under breaths.
– Mac in its history has had two major transitions.
– 680×0 to Power PPC
– Classic to OS X, set up for the next 20 years
– Time for the third transition
– It’s true (small intel style e)!
– PowerPC to Intel processors starts now for developers and for customers in 2006-2007.
– “Why are we doing this?” We want to be making the best computer for our customers looking forward.
– Brings up the G5 laptop and the 3.0 GHz Tower, but these aren’t the most important reasons.
– Looking ahead, while we have great products right now, we have ideas of future products and we can’t make them with PPC
– Power consumption is a big key to this motivation (gives an integer comparison chart).
– Next year, at this time, Macs shipping with Intel processors
– In 2007, at this time, transition will be mostly complete, totally done by the end of 2007.
– Two major challenges in this transition.
– First: Making OS X “sing” on Intel
– OS X has been leading a secret double life for the last 5 years.
– #1 rule: Designs for OS X must be processor independent
– #2 rule: Every project must run on Intel and PowerPC
– EVERY release of OS X for the last 5 years has been compiled for Intel and PowerPC, confirming rumors.
– Demo system he’s been using has been runing on this morning is Intel (Pentium 4, 3.6 GHz)
– It’s singing, it’s really indistinguishable from G5 chips.
– Very far along, but not done, going to put this in developer hands.
– Second: Your apps
– Four types of apps
– Widgets/scripts/Java – just work
– Cocoa apps: “Small tweak (few days) and recompile”
– Carbon / Xcode – “Tweak (few weeks) and recompile”
– Carbon / Metrowerks – “Switch to Xcode, tweak (few weeks), recompile.”
– Top 100 developers, over half are using Xcode, 25% are in the process of switching.
– This is “nothing” like Carbonization.
– Trots out Mathematica who he called last Wednesday to port over to Intel.
– Theo Grey out to talk about the process.
– Took two hours to get running on Intel.
– “Twenty lines of source code from a dead cold start”.
– “YMMV”
– Xcode 2.1 out today
– When you build, check a box for Intel or PowerPC.
– Universal Binary, runs on both PPC and Intel.
– Both processors supported for a “very long time”.
– Not every app is going to be universal on Day 1.
– Technology called Rosetta.
– Translates PowerPC to Intel
– Runs existing apps
– Dynamic binary translator
– Transparent to users, nothing like Classic
– Lightweight, no big memory footprint
– “Fast (enough)”
– Demo: Word opens fine. Excel opens fine. Quicken runs fine. Photoshop works fine, although it’s a little slow on load – fine on file open after it’s loaded. Photoshop plugins work fine.
– Developer Transition Kit
– 3.6 GHz Pentium 4
– OS X for Intel 10.4.1
– Xcode 2.1
– Universal Binary Porting Guide
– Development platform only, NOT A PRODUCT
– Have to return by end of 2006
– Select and Premier ADC members only
– ***$999***
– Shipping in two weeks
– From Microsoft: Roz Ho, General Manager of MBU
– Not a great speaker.
– Final touches on updates for Exchange users
– Releasing a new version of MSN Messanger in the next few months
– Team has been working closely with Apple on the Intel thing
– Planning on releasing universal binaries
– No actual solid announcement, just “looking forward to working together into the future”.
– From Adobe: Bruce Chizen, CEO
– “Absolutely committed to putting apps running natively on new Intel boxes.”
– “We will be the first with this transition, as we were for OS X.”
– “Found something pretty amazing: They’re kind of like us.”
– Paul Otellini, President and CEO of Intel
– “We are so excited at Intel to have been given the opportunity to work with Apple to bring you really great products.”
– The story:
– Intel founded in 1968 in Mountain View.
– 1976, Apple founded 5 miles away.
– Bob and Andy Grove were early investors in Apple.
– 1976, Apple went with MOS, IBM went with Intel.
– 1993, Apple goes with PPC, Intel launches Pentium.
– 1996, Apple sets fire to Intel’s bunny man.
– Shows commerical just for kicks, much cheering.
– 2005, “The most innovative computer company and the world’s most innovative chip company finally team up.” Big applause.

Where does this leave us?

– Apple is strong.
– Mac is strong.
– Great time to start building for the future.
– We know transitions.
– We’re getting ready.
– Time for you to get ready, too.
– 90+ of the sessions include content about Universal versions.
– 100+ dev transition systems in 7 labs this week.
– “Soul of the Mac is it’s operating system, and we’re not standing still.”