Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and Kara Swisher run the All Things Digital website and every year host the D conference. This eighth year, what they are calling D8 kicked off last night with an interview of Steve Jobs by Mossberg and Swisher. At some point, I hope that D will likely post the entire video so that we can watch the whole thing. (Late last night, they started to upload some short video segments.) [UPDATE 6/7/10: The full, uncut video is finally available the D8 website.] In the meantime, you can do what I did and read the live blogs by people who were there such as Joshua Topolsky of Engadget, John Pacakowski of All Things D and Ina Friend at CNET.
If you just want the iPhone-related highlights, here is what jumped out at me. Note that most of the "quotes" included below are not verbatim, but are instead based on the live blogs, mostly Topolsky's blogging for Engadget. [UPDATE 6/3/10: I've now watched the videos and tried to fix the quotes as much as I could.]
- Adobe Flash. Apple doesn't support Adobe Flash on the iPhone or iPad because it thinks that the technology does not represent the future. "Apple is a company that doesn't have the most resources of everybody in the world. And the way we've succeeded is by choosing what horses to ride very carefully, technically. We try to look for these technical vectors that have a future. And that are headed up. Different pieces of technology kind of go in cycles. They have their Springs and Summers and Autumns and then they go to the graveyard of technology. So we try to pick things that are in their Springs. And if you
choose wisely you can save yourself an enormous amount of work versus trying to do everything. So we have a history of doing that. ... Sometimes you just have to pick the things that look like they are going to be the right horses to ride going forward. And Flash looks like a technology that had its day but is waning, and HTML5 looks like the technology that is really on the ascendancy right now."
- The Lost iPhone, Part 1. As for the "lost" iPhone prototype, Jobs noted early in the interview that we don't know whether the phone was left in a bar or was stolen from a bag. Either way, Jobs admitted that it is a fascinating story: "It turned out that the person who got the phone tried to activate it by plugging it in to his roomate's computer, a woman. And she saw him evidentally destroying some evidence, and she's the one who called the police. ... So this is a story that's amazing. It's got theft, it's got buying stolen property, it's got extortion, I'm sure there's sex in there somewhere. So somebody should make a movie out of this ... The whole thing is very colorful, and the DA is investigating it, and to my knowledge they have somebody from the courts that is making sure that they only see stuff that relates to this case and no other cases, I believe that they are taking great pains to do that, and I don't know where this will end up. It is really up to the DA."
- The Lost iPhone, Part 2. Later in the interview, when asked about the future, Jobs took it upon himself to bring up the "lost" iPhone issue again and explain why Apple decided to be aggressive: "When this whole thing with Gizmodo happened, I got a lot of advice from people who said 'you gotta just let it slide. You shouldn't go after a journalist because they bought stolen property and they tried to extort you.' And I thought deeply about this, and I ended up concluding that the worst thing that could possibly happen as we get big and we get a little more influence in the world is if we change our core values and start letting it slide. I can't do that. I'd rather quit. We have the same values now as we had then. We're maybe a little more expeirenced, certainly more beat up, but the core values are the same."
- Google. Jobs noted that Google decided to be a competitor to Apple. Apple didn't enter the search business; Google decided to start selling smart phones. Regardless, Apple's goal is simply to make better products.
- Foxconn suicides. Apple is aware of the recent suicides at Foxconn, the large Chinese company that assembles the iPhone and other Apple products. Jobs noted that the suicide rate among the 400,000 Foxconn employees is smaller than the U.S. suicide rate, but nevertheless the situation is still troubling and Apple has people at Foxconn trying to get to the bottom of it.
- AT&T exclusivity and coverage. Jobs admitted that there might be an advantage so having multiple cell phone carriers in the U.S., but refused to comment on the future of the exclusive relationship with AT&T. He did note that a major reason for the problems with the AT&T network is that, thanks to the iPhone, AT&T is handling way more traffic than all of AT&T's competitors combined. Jobs also said that AT&T says that it is working to improve, and some areas will see improvements by the end of this summer.
- Which came first, the iPhone or the iPad? We've heard this story before (for example in the excellent article by Fred Vogelstein in Wired from early 2008 titled "The Untold Story: How the iPhone Blew Up the Wireless Industry"), but Jobs again confirmed that the iPad predated the iPhone as an Apple project.
- "I'll tell you kind of a secret. ... I actually started on the tablet first. I had this idea of being able to get rid of the keyboard, type on a multitouch glass display. And I asked our folks could we come up with a multitouch display that I could type on, that I could rest my hands on and actually type on. And about six months later they called me in and showed me this prototype display. And I gave it to one of our other really brilliant UI folks. And he called me back a few weeks later and he had inertial scrolling working. ... When I saw the rubber-band inertial scrolling and a few of the other things I thought, "My God, we can build a phone out of this." And I put the tablet project on the shelf because the phone was more important. And we went and took the next several years and did the iPhone. And when we got our wind back, and thought we could take on something next, we pulled the tablet off the shelf and took everything we learned from the phone, and went back to work on the tablet."
- Trucks vs. Cars. When asked about whether tablets, not computers, were the future, Jobs had an interesting analogy: "When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that is what you needed on the farms. But as people moved more towards urban centers, people started to get into cars. I think PCs are going to be like trucks. They're still going to be around. They're still going to have a lot of value. But they're going to be used by 1 out of X people. And this transformation is going to make some people uneasy ... because the PC has taken us a long ways. It was brilliant. And we like to talk about the post-PC era, but when it really starts to happen, I think it is uncomfortable for a lot of people. ... I think that we are embarked on that. Is it the iPad? Who knows? Will it happen next year or five years from now or seven years, who knows?"
- App Store rejections. When asked about the rejection of apps from the App Store, Jobs pointed out that 95% of apps are approved in about a week. As for the others, Apple tries to adhere to certain rules, but those rules are amended over time. Jobs said that many of the people who complain in public about being rejected are not telling the whole story about why their apps were rejected. He also noted that anyone can develop anything that they want for the iPhone or iPad by using HTML5 and making a web app or website.