Steve Jobs engages in heated email exchange with Gawker blogger Ryan Tate

Sun, May 16, 2010


So long, writers block. Doing away with his typical terse email responses, Apple CEO Steve Jobs got into a heated email exchange with Gawker blogger Ryan Tate over the weekend. Tate, who writes for the tabloid-esque Valleywag website, was inexplicably incensed at an iPad commercial he happened to catch Friday night.

So what did he do? What any self-respecting weirdo would do. He fired off an email to Jobs asking him how Bob Dylan would feel about Apple’s oft-criticized control over the iPhone OS platform.

The entire email exchange is as follows.


If Dylan was 20 today, how would he feel about your company?

Would he think the iPad had the faintest thing to do with “revolution?”

Revolutions are about freedom.


Yep, freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin’, and some traditional PC folks feel like their world is slipping away. It is.


Honestly, my MacBook Pro 13 battery holds up fine against Flash. The battery is boss. So is my iPad battery. I’d rather have a Wired magazine app that has some interactivity rather than one that is a glorified PDF. So why not? Just because Adobe tried to fuck you guys in the late 90s? It’s not a question of pure Cocoa vs. Flash cross compile. It’s a question of weak content in an approved wrapper vs. something interactive that happens to be cross compiled by Adobe.

And you know what? I don’t want “freedom from porn.” Porn is just fine! and I think my wife would agree.


Wired is doing a native Cocoa app. So is almost every publisher. And you might care more about porn when you have kids.


Wired is doing a native Cocoa app because they HAVE to. But why should they have to waste any effort porting?? These print guys should be encouraged to do any interactivity they are willing to do. It’s a miracle anyone within Cone Nast wants to do more than a straight reproduction of the mag, and you’re making it harder for them. Trust me, I used to work for the Newhouses, at SF Biz Times – they have zero internet ambition at the corporate level. All you’re doing is making it harder for smart guys like Chris Anderson to do something interesting. It’s not a question of native app vs non native app with the old media — it’s a question of interactive vs non interactive. [Redacted} at Time Inc is crowing about how smart he was to do the shitty Time app, since, technically, it’s Obj C, ported via PDF from their Dutch partner. But really their app is the equiv of all those shitty iPhone apps out there — just barely enough effort to get in the Store and get some money. I’m much more impressed with people who try to do something new and interesting, even if they have to cross compile to do it. Like Wired.

And I’ve been lobbying Nick Denton to invest in Apple iPhone/iPad development since I started working for the company in 2008. But no more – I’m now convinced Apple sill fuck us on the app approval, like it’s fucked so many others with remotely controversial content. Better to do straight Web development. Say what you will about Schmidt but he plays fair when it comes to what gets indexed on the web.

PS I’m not a porn fiend. But come on. I don’t think it’s going to fuck my my kids if someone in my house looks at a porn clip. And if my kids have an iPad you’re dame sure there’ll be no porn on it! My wife and I are looking at that in a year or so when I’m done with my Harper Business book on skunkworks projects. Like FrontRow!


Wait – of course they don’t have to. They don’t need to publish on the iPad if they don’t want to. No one is forcing them. But it appears they DO want to.

There are almost 200,000 apps in the App Store, so something must be going alright. The magazine apps will be far better in the end because they are written native. We’ve seen this movie before.

Gosh, why are you so bitter over a technical issue such as this? Its not about freedom, its about Apple trying to do the right thing for its users. Users, developers and publishers can do whatever they like – they don’t have to buy or develop or publish on iPads if they don’t want to. This seems like its your issue, not theirs.


Was it a “technical issue” when Microsoft was trying to make everyone write to the Win32 API?

Were you happy when Adobe went along with that?

You have the chance to set the tone for a new platform. For the new phone and tablet platform. The platform of the future! I am disappointed to see it’s the same old revenge power bullshit.

PS And yes I may sound bitter. Because I don’t think it’s a technical issue at all — it’s you imposing your morality; about porn, about ‘trade secrets’, about technical purity in the most bizarre sense. Apple itself has used translation layers and intermediate APIs. Objective C and iTunes for Windows are testament to this. Anyone who has spent any time coding knows the power and importance of intermediate APIs.

And I don’t like Apple’s pet police force literally kicking in my co-workers’ doors. But I suppose the courts will have the last say on that, I can’t say I’m worried.


You are so misinformed. No one kicked in any doors. You’re believing a lot of erroneous blogger reports.

Microsoft had (has) every right to enforce whatever rules for their platform they want. If people don’t like it, they can write for another platform, which some did. Or they can buy another platform, which some did.

As for us, we’re just doing what we can to try and make (and preserve) the user experience we envision. You can disagree with us, but our motives are pure.

By the way, what have you done that’s so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others work and belittle their motivations?


3 Comments For This Post

  1. AndrewK Says:

    Seriously? He’s excited over a commercial that refers to a product as revolutionary? Hold the phone! Does Gawker have anything of substance to say?

  2. Steve W Says:

    Poor Adobe! I think they should sue Gawker media.

    Gawker is trying to gain sympathy by suggesting that Apple’s beef with Jason Chen is similar to Apple’s beef with Adobe’s Flash. Problem is: as more facts come out, it becomes more and more clear that Apple will be vindicated in the first case. That could sway public opinion in the second case.

    “Sucks to be him…”

  3. AndrewK Says:

    I don’t see any real sympathy for Adobe. I see a lot of tech geeks musing about the wonderful Utopia of open platforms. But, as Jobs said, the traditional PC folks feel it slipping away. Jobs is coming from the design angle where everything is about user experience. Tech blogs are still thinking in terms of platform. Personally, as developer in a different field, I just want the stuff to work.

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