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When Steve says "No" we hear "Maybe." Here's why.

In a recent TUAW post, I wondered whether a closed Mac system might be in Apple's future in addition to the standard Mac offerings. Despite the existence of Apple TV, some are dubious. After all, Steve Jobs said no (or, more accurately "nope") to a correspondent who recently asked about a Mac App store under a far more universally closed system than the scenario floated yesterday.

Jobs has said "no" (and "nope") before. Sure, we at TUAW love Uncle Steve, but when Jobs says "no," we're not always sure that he really, really means it.

The following list includes TUAW's 6 top Steve Jobs "no way" moments. Each of these transformed into "yes way" actions some time after Apple's denial. It's not as if Apple doesn't mean "no" when it says "no." It's just that like any other corporation, Apple often moves in unexpected directions based on consumer pressure. And sometimes Pinocchio's nose grows a teeny tiny bit.


  1. No video iPod. Back in the Spring of 2004, Steve Jobs assured us that there would be no video iPod. Saying "It's about the music, stupid," Jobs denied that Apple would add video to any model of iPod. "We're focused on music," he said. Jobs pointed out that people listen to music differently than the ways they watch videos. With music, a device can be stuck into a pocket rather than held and watched. Apple would not be going into the hand-held movie-watching direction. The iPod video debuted in the Fall of 2005.


  2. No iPhone. As our pals over at the Mac Observer reported, Jobs was pretty down on any phones back in 2003. Speaking to Uncle Walt, Jobs firmly declared his intention to stay out of the PDA and phone space. "I get a lot of pressure to do a PDA," Jobs said. "What people really seem to want to do with these is get the data out. We believe cell phones are going to carry this information. We didn't think we'd do well in the cell phone business." The iPhone was announced in early 2007.


  3. No need for an iPhone SDK. Do you remember the "sweet solution" that Jobs introduced back in January 2007 to allow third party developers to access the iPhone platform? It didn't involve an iPhone SDK. Instead, Jobs suggested using the Safari browser to provide web apps. "[These apps are] secure, and they run securely sandboxed on the iPhone," Jobs announced. "And guess what, there's no SDK you need! You've got everything you need if you can write modern web apps." As late as WWDC in the Summer of 2007, Jobs still insisted that third party support for the iPhone would not involve a native SDK. "[The Web] is a very modern way to build applications," he stated, citing Google and Salesforce.com as companies centered entirely on web platforms. The iPhone SDK appeared in 2008 after being pre-announced in October 2007.


  4. No iPad. Steve Jobs reassured us from reports dating back to 2002 that there was no chance of an Apple-branded tablet computer. According to Jobs, a tablet wasn't a big enough market for Apple to spend its limited resources chasing. Plus, it turns out that people want keyboards, not to mention that "Tablets appeal to rich guys with plenty of other PCs and devices already." The iPad tablet debuted in the Spring of 2010, and has already shipped more than 1 million units. In comparison, in the fourth quarter of 2002, Apple shipped just 734,000 Macintosh systems.


  5. No iBooks. While talking to David Pogue back in September of 2009, Steve Jobs expressly denied Apple's interest in moving into the e-book arena. Just months before introducing the iPad and iBooks, Jobs told Pogue "Apple doesn't see e-books as a big market at this point." As this Venture Beat post put it, "Steve Jobs says no Apple e-book. No one believes him." iBooks was announced in January 2010.


  6. No multitasking. Back at WWDC '08, Steve Jobs was hating on the multitasking for mobile devices. "The wrong solution is to enable background processes to allow an app to continue to run even after their user thinks they quit it," he said at that time. "First, battery life, it drains power. Second, performance, it sucks up cycles and makes other things feel sluggish." Jobs offered the ultimate solution for anyone who wanted updates from more than one app at a time -- Push Notifications. "We've come up with a far better solution [to multitasking]," he stated. "A push notification service Apple will provide to all developers." Push eventually arrived but it never measured up for anyone who wanted background Pandora music and Air Sharing file services. Multitasking will ship for recent-generation iPhones and iPads this Summer.

Of course this list is far from comprehensive. But to anyone who tells us "Steve Jobs said 'nope,'" we reply that Apple, in general, and Steve Jobs in particular, always say no -- until they say "yes." Boom!

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