Much has been said about Apple’s ambitions to jump into the television market. Even the late Steve Jobs professed his desire to create a set that was easy to use – going so far as to tell biographer Walter Isaacson that he’d “finally cracked it.” But did he really mean it?
According to Yukari Iwatani Kane, former Apple beat reporter for The Wall Street Journal, the answer is no. In an excerpt from her new book, Kane describes Jobs’ final Top 100 meeting – an annual gathering of the top 100 employees, executives and managers.
During the 2010 meeting, Jobs reportedly sat in front of everyone and invited any questions, no matter how dumb or insulting they might be. He said he wanted to make everyone feel comfortable about whatever questions they had about the company.
Fresh off the heels of the iPad 2 launch, one person asked if Apple would be releasing a television next. Without missing a beat, Jobs’ answer was simple. “No.” The co-founder reportedly told those in attendance that TV is a terrible business because they don’t turn over and the margins suck. He did, however, admit that he wanted to control the living room but their existing set-top box would remain a hobby until Apple signed all of the content deals they were after.
Truer words were never spoken as, unlike smartphones that are generally replaced every two years and have great margins, televisions get replaced every eight years on average and aren’t very profitable.
But did Jobs actually mean what he said? Some top executives read between the lines a bit and interpreted the message simply as a warning not to try and think of the next big thing too quickly. And here we sit more than three years later, seemingly no closer to an Apple television than we were in 2010.