2010 Steve Jobs email sheds light on product roadmap, mentions Apple TV with apps, subscriptions, and a "magic wand"
The great thing about these Apple/Samsung lawsuits is that it brings to the forefront a treasure trove of internal Apple information that we would otherwise have no access to. From never before seen iPhone prototypes to internal Apple emails, there's certainly no shortage of fascinating information to digest.
The latest such example is a doozy, and comes in the form of a Steve Jobs email sent in late October 2010 ahead of Apple's Top 100 retreat.
Originally unearthed by The Verge, the email provides a lot of insight into what Apple's product roadmap looked like at the time, while also revealing that keeping tabs on Android remained a top priority.
Below are a few highlights.
Note that this was from October 2010, meaning that the iPhone 4 was still relatively fresh on the scene. Here we see reference to the iPhone 4s (which at the time Jobs referred to as the "'plus' iPhone 4"), along with plans to release an LTE iPhone by mid-2012. Apple fell a little behind on that goal as the iPhone 5 wasn't released until September 2012. There's also mention of iPhone 5 hardware and prototypes or renderings from Jony Ive. Also noteworthy is that the iPhone strategy discussion portion of the retreat was spearheaded by Joz (Greg Joswiak) and Bob Mansfield.
With respect to the iPad, Jobs wrote that Apple's plan was to release the iPad 2 in 2011 before competitors could even catch up to the original. The Apple employees involved in discussing the company's iPad strategy included notable names such as Bob Mansfield (once again), Dan Riccio, and Jony Ive.
Also of note is that showcasing a working display for the iPad 3 was on the agenda. The iPad 3 of course added a Retina Display and was released in March of 2012. To that end, we can see that Apple's product roadmap at the time stretched out about 17-18 months, and even further when we factor in how many months went into developing the iPad 3 display -- which is all the more reason why folks demanding the next big thing from Apple would be advised to chill out a bit.
With respect to iOS, here's what Jobs had to say. Ah, so nostalgic to see a reference to Scotty!
For context, iOS 5 was internally codenamed Telluride, while Jasper was iOS 4.2 and Durango was iOS 4.3.
Interesting to see that Jobs was well aware that iOS in a number of ways lagged behind Android. While Jobs, or anyone from Apple for that matter, would never admit as much publicly, it goes to show that Apple execs aren't delusional and take sober assessments of the competitive landscape.
Speaking of Android, Jobs' section on MobileMe notes that Apple's strategy was to "catch up to Google cloud services and leapfrog them." Jobs also noted that Google's cloud services were "way ahead of Apple in cloud services" for contacts, calendars, and mail. The October 2011 retreat also saw demos of iOS 5 features such as "Find my Friends" about a year before launch.
The section on Apple TV is particularly interesting given the ongoing battle for control of the living room, not to mention an incessant stream of rumors regarding Apple's alleged plans in the TV space.
Here we see that Apple back then was keen on adding more content options (which they've since accomplished) and that the idea of TV subscriptions was being tossed around as well. Particularly interesting is the blurb about potentially adding apps, a browser, and a "magic wand" to the Apple TV. The idea of an Apple TV capable of running apps on its own has generated a lot of interest and speculation over the past few years, and it certainly seems like it would be in Apple's best interest to move in that direction. As for what the "magic wand" refers to, that's anybody's guess but likely refers to some type of Wii type controller. Of course, any discussion of an Apple TV housing an app or gaming storefront should also mention Apple's November 2013 acquisition of PrimeSense, an Israeli-based company whose 3D sensor technology went into Microsoft's original Kinect.
The entire email, which is all rather fascinating, can be viewed below or over here at The Verge.
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