When the magic dust of the iPad settled, pundits and analysts alike began to wonder out loud what Apple was going to do next. What product category was the company going to revolutionize next? And for the longest time, a lot of folks thought it was going to be televisions.
Some even believed that’s what Steve Jobs was referring to when he said he had “finally cracked” the secret of TV. But according to a passage from Yukari Kane’s new book ‘Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs,’ the co-founder never wanted Apple to release its own TV set…
In the passage, Kane passes along details from one of Apple’s ‘Top 100′ meetings from 2010. The company hosts the meeting every year featuring its top 100 executives, managers and employees. They are extremely secretive, and often include the discussion of new products.
The 2010 meeting was Jobs’ last, and Kane says that on the last day of the retreat, the then-CEO sat in front of the room with everyone and said, “You’ve got Steve Jobs sitting right here. You’re my guys, you can ask me anything.” And someone brought up the television rumors.
BusinessInsider has the exchange:
“One person asked if Apple was going to release a television next. There were already rumors all over the place that it was Apple’s next conquest. Yukari says “Jobs didn’t hesitate.” He said, “No.”
“TV is a terrible business. They don’t turn over and the margins suck,” said Jobs. (Unlike iPhones which are wildly profitable and replaced every two years, a TV gets replaced every 8 years, and isn’t all that profitable.)
He did want to control the living room, though, he said. He also said the Apple TV, the little video streaming box, would remain a hobby until Apple got all the content it needed.”
As you can imagine, many of the executives in the room knew not to take Jobs’ comment too seriously. After all, he had said the same thing about mobile phones years before, as well as video iPods and 8-inch tablets. He had a history of changing his mind about these kinds of things.
At the same time, though, it’s worth noting that television rumors are now few and far between, replaced by talk of a smartwatch and a refreshed set-top box. Also note what he says about the Apple TV being a hobby, as it might add some context to Tim Cook’s recent comments.
At the shareholders meeting last month, Cook told investors that it’s becoming ‘a little more difficult to call [the Apple TV] a hobby these days.’ Apple is believed to be readying a new version of its popular set-top box with app and game support to release sometime later this year.