According to Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, the late Apple CEO said he wanted to make a smart television that’s “completely easy to use,” but then he also told his “Top 100” executives and managers that Apple was never going to sell TVs with screens.
Set to be released on March 18, Yukari Iwatani Kane’s “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs” pierces through the veil of secrecy involving some of Steve Jobs’ projects, including the much-rumored television set which Apple was expected to unveil by now.
The book recounts Steve Jobs’ annual meetings with his “Top 100” executives, managers, and select employees, whom he’d take to a nice place (sometimes outdoors) and discuss Apple’s roadmap, sometimes even unveiling new products.
“You've got Steve Jobs sitting right here,” he said on his last such meeting in 2010. “You're my guys, you can ask me anything you want. I don't care how dumb it is or how insulting it is. I want to make you all feel comfortable about whatever questions you have about the company.”
According to Business Insider, which offers some excerpts from the book, one person asked if Apple was going to release a television as the company’s next best thing. Yukari says “Jobs didn't hesitate.” He immediately said, “No.”
Jobs then elaborated, saying, “TV is a terrible business. They don't turn over and the margins suck.” However, he then added that he did want to place Apple at the center of the living room one way or another. To do that, Apple would continue to focus on its “hobby,” the Apple TV set-top box. Jobs said it would remain just that until Apple gets all the content it needs.
Ever since Steve Jobs’ death, Apple has been signing deal after deal with content suppliers, adding a new channel every few months to the Apple TV’s home screen.
Yukari says in her book that some people in the meeting believed Jobs, while others didn’t. The “veterans in the room” were accustomed to Jobs’ mercurial temper and quick change of heart. Some of them actually thought Jobs was trying to keep them focused on doing great work on Apple’s current projects, rather than dream of the future.
And there’s a quote from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs that supports this thinking.
Before he died he, he told Isaacson, “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use ... It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud ... It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”
As avid fans will recall, Apple is rumored to be launching yet another TV box this year, this time with an all-new interface, access to the App Store, and gaming support.