Steve Jobs Dishes, Provides as Many Answers as Lost Series Finale

Steve Jobs was at D8 last night here in LA, and gave some interesting answers to some very good questions. Unfortunately, some of the answers were intentionally vague, so our WWDC Rumor Scorecard is still as much a guessing game as it was yesterday. Some of his answers are so well stated, it’s hard not to like the guy. And others made you realize he is actually human after all.

This early question and subsequent answer from Jobs made me appreciate who he is. When asked about Apple’s market valuation now being being higher than Microsoft’s, Jobs said, “For those of us that have been in the industry a long time, it’s surreal. But… it doesn’t matter very much.” Compare that with what Steve Ballmer said about the same topic. “I will make more profit and certainly there is no technology company on the planet that is as profitable as we are.”

Walt Mossberg asks Jobs about not supporting Flash. He replies, “The way we’ve succeeded is by choosing what horses to ride very carefully… We try to find these technical vectors that have a future, that are headed up… We have a history of doing that. As an example, we went from the 5 inch floppy disk to the 3-1/2 inch floppy disk with the iMac… Flash looks like a technology that looks like it had its day, but is really on its way— it’s waning.” Ouch.

In regards to cloud syncing, Jobs says, “You want to share your content that you bought amongst your various devices. You can do that today with a wire. You can’t do that without a wire. We need to work harder on that. We need to do better. Anytime soon? We’re working on it.”

Mossberg asked Jobs if he would be removing Google from the prominence it has on the iPhone since they are now competing with Apple. He says, “Just because we’re competing with someone doesn’t mean we have to be rude.”

At one point in the discussion of AT&T Jobs says, “AT&T took a big leap for us,” mentioning that Apple wasn’t sure they’d be able to break into the phone market at first. It would be easy for Jobs to puff up his chest and say, “Look at what I’ve done.” But he hasn’t forgotten the people that helped him get there.

One person in the audience had a chance to ask a question. He makes this great statement, “We have no concerns about the speed of [AT&T's] network, or the data robustness. Our concern is that we can’t make a phone call on it.” Jobs goes into a long-winded technical explanation of what AT&T is telling him they are doing. “Things in general, when they start to fix them, get worse before they start to get better. That’s what I’m told. And if you believe that, things should be getting a lot better soon!” Then he adds in a more serious tone that he is being told a lot of places will get a lot better by the summer.

Jobs was asked about his email banter with Ryan Tate of Gawker, in which Jobs had emailed, “By the way, what have you done that’s so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others [sic] work and belittle their motivations?” Jobs says that Tate never identified himself as a journalist and he wanted to straighten him out.

When Jobs answers a question about changing the face of television, he explains that there’s a fundamental problem in the TV industry. “The problem with innovation in the TV industry is the go to market strategy. The TV industry has a subsidized model that gives everyone a set top box for free. So no one wants to buy a box.” Jobs adds, “So all you can do is ADD a box to the TV. You just end up with a table full of remotes, a cluster of boxes… and that’s what we have today. The only way that’s going to change is if you tear up the set top box, give it a new UI, and get it in front of consumers in a way they’re going to want it. The TV is going to lose in our eyes until there is a better go to market strategy… otherwise you’re just making another TiVo.” This doesn’t sound like a person about to introduce a new set-top box next week.

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