Tech

Apple: Email shows how ruthless Steve Jobs really was

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

REUTERS / Robert Galbraith

Many adjectives apply to Steve Jobs: innovative, trendsetting, charismatic. Another word on this list is merciless. This impression is at least given by e-mail histories from the former Apple boss, which were published this week on Wednesday.

Jobs, who founded Apple, passed away in October 2011. In the emails that came out, he instructed his employees to exclude a developer who publicly criticized the company, to force developers of subscription-based apps to use Apple’s payment service, and everything Prevent other companies from offering a digital book store on Apple’s iPhones and iPads – unless Apple receives a share of their earnings.

Antitrust concerns against Apple and other large tech companies

“I think it’s all pretty easy,” Jobs wrote in an email on February 6, 2011, dealing with the book trade. “[Apples] iBooks will be the only bookstore for iOS devices. We have to appear with our heads held high. You can read books that were bought elsewhere, but you cannot buy / borrow / subscribe to them on iOS without paying us, which we recognize is unaffordable for many. “

House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law

Jobs’ emails are part of a series of internal messages published by the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law of the United States Department of Justice Justice Committee. The subcommittee made the documents public after hearing antitrust concerns against Apple and other major technology companies. The focus of the hearing was the testimony of the current bosses from Apple, Google’s parent company Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook.

Much of Apple’s concern is about how the company manages the app store for iPhones and iPads. The only native apps that users of these devices can usually install are those that are offered in the App Store. Apple sets all the rules for these apps. Also, which applications can be listed in the App Store, what services they have to pay for Apple and how much this amount is. Some regulators and market experts have expressed concerns that the company could use its control over the app store to favor its own apps, slow down competition, or charge developers unreasonable fees.

Apple was aware of concerns from bookstores

The old email messages – especially those from Jobs – are likely to reinforce this impression. The email from 2011 above is just a part of a more detailed exchange between jobs and high-level company representatives. This was about whether and what Apple should demand from developers who offer digital content and subscriptions via Apple apps. The bosses agreed to charge developers a 30 percent commission on the sale of such products.

The company representatives said in the discussion that digital booksellers would certainly be against Apple paying such a commission. After all, they would already pay a comparable fee to book publishers. “The bookstores will claim that this model doesn’t work,” said Eddy Cue, who oversaw the app store, in a response to Jobs ’email.

Jobs also showed his mercilessness towards Amazon

But Jobs didn’t even shy away from meeting other tech giants with the same unscrupulousness. In a similar 2010 email exchange, he and Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing vice president, discussed Amazon’s Kindle eBook app. At that time, Apple had granted Amazon no commission when customers bought digital books on their iPhones and iPads. Schiller was annoyed that Amazon had placed an advertisement that showed how customers buy Kindle eBooks on an iPhone and then read them on an Android-based cell phone.

“The primary message is that there are Kindle apps on many different mobile devices. However, the secondary message that should not be overlooked here is that it is easy to switch from iPhone to Android, ”Schiller wrote in a message to Jobs. “It’s really no fun looking at that.”

House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law

In a later message, Schiller Jobs suggested that Apple should force Amazon to use Apple’s payment system to sell books on iPhones and iPads, thereby paying a commission. He noted that Amazon could refuse to do this. In this case, Apple might consider banning the app from the app store for non-compliance with company rules.

Jobs’ answer shows that he would not shy away from a possible dispute. “It is time for them to choose to use our payment mechanism or to opt out,” he said.

Jobs instructed employees to exclude a developer

Jobs appeared to be at its most unsentimental side when he hired employees to slow down a developer who was critical of the company. In the summer of 2010, Apple introduced new rules that required developers to write apps for the iPhone and iPad in the programming language of these devices. To date, it has been possible to write the apps in a different language and use a software tool to translate them.

House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law

A developer named Joe Hewitt voiced criticism of this requirement because he classified the language required by Apple as “mediocre”. Hewitt also expressed his opinion to the press. But Jobs showed no interest in engaging in a dialogue with Hewitt. Instead, he wrote in an email: “I suggest we exclude Joe from now on.”

This text has been translated from English and adapted. You can find the original article here.

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