You got to admit it, one person you never want to take on in a Poker game would have to be Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, surely?

Think about it. 

This man is one of the most accomplished truth deflectors in the business – we’re not saying he doesn’t tell the truth, he does, he’s pretty much always honest, he’s just good, really, really good at saying truthful things which make listeners think they hear the opposite of what he says

Remember Steve Jobs on enabling video playback for iPods, when he was so often heard to say, “the iPod is for listening to music, it’s not designed for video.”

He was telling the truth – the iPod that existed then wasn’t and isn’t designed for video. The unreleased product (which Jobs seems to file mentally into a box in the mind marked, ‘does not yet exist’) sitting in the Apple r&d Lab, well, that did video fine. It’s just not having been announced yet, it did not exist. So he was honest, gave an answer to the question, and sent all the media scurrying on a path of their very own surmise.

Think back to 2004, when Jobs responded to Detroit Free Press correspondent Mike Wendland’s question about video for the Pod, and other features with the wise-crack, “We want it to make toast, we’re toying with refrigeration, too.” (Interestingly the G5 Power Mac did possess a water based cooling system to keep it cool, so perhaps that was on Jobs’ mind). "One of the things we say around Apple, and I paraphrase Bill Clinton from the 1992 presidential race, is ‘It’s about the music, stupid,’” Jobs added. 

His observation then was that there’s a difference between the way we listen to music and watch video – video demands more attention while music is a background process. “We’re focused on music,” he said.

Flash forward to D:All Things Digital last year, when Walt Mossberg pulled him up on those earlier statements about iPod video. That’s when Jobs said he was skeptical, but customers have proved him wrong, and changed his tune, “People have watched a lot of video on iPods. Video is here to stay on portable devices.” 

Here’s the D video to refresh your memory.

http://services.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f8/452319854

These are a few threads suggesting the Apple leader’s talent for misdirection. Any of us who watched the debate about handheld devices  before Apple introduced the iPhone should have similar anecdotes, Jobs seemed dead against them, describing the market as “not a happy place”.

Flash forward to today, and you have Jobs’ scathing turn down on Blu-ray support in Macs, “It’s a bag of hurt”; and his denial of any plans for an Apple netbook…

Except it’s not a denial, is it? "In terms of netbooks, that’s a nascent market that’s just getting started. We’ll see how it goes,” Jobs explained in the (expurgated from the finally released official Apple event video) Q&A session which followed this week’s MacBook family values launch. 

This has been widely reported as Apple nixing the idea, at least for now.

I don’t think that’s the case – the company is already working on devices that will accomplish such tasks, I think, but once again it’s assembling the building blocks.

– I don’t believe we can expect to see an Apple netbook this side of the release of Snow Leopard.

– I think Apple’s plans call for adding industrial grade strengths to Mobile Me – so your netbook will have full access to all your information and media…iPhone shows the way.

It’’s not Apple’s netbook time yet, but this is one “nascent market” the company can jump right into. Indeed, the market’s going to be nascent until the company does.

Quite like John Gruber’s articulation of that last thought, “Apple may well go there eventually, but it won’t be for another year or two, and then when they do, it will drive the PC press nuts because Steve Jobs will announce it in such a way that makes it seem as though Apple invented the entire product category.”

How true. 

Asus has two years, max. 

(Or I’m wrong, of course – bear in mind that this entire report is an opinion piece).

About the Author