Earlier this evening, Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave an on-stage interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher to open this year’s D: All Things Digital Conference. Jobs touched on a number of subjects, ranging from the App Store approval process to the purchase and subsequent publication of details relating to the fourth-generation iPhone. Perhaps most notably, Jobs revealed that the basis for the iPhone OS originally started as a software project for a tablet, and was only re-focused on a phone once Jobs saw the initial user interface coming together. He later made an analogy between traditional PCs and trucks and tablet computers and cars, saying that he thinks PCs will be more like trucks, and over time, less people will need them.
Asked about his own open letter regarding Apple’s stance on Flash support for the iPhone OS platform, Jobs depicted the company as having fewer resources than some competitors, and explained that it tries to look for technology that is up and coming, instead of on its way out. He noted Apple’s history of both abandoning outgoing technology earlier than competitors, such as with the 3.5-inch floppy disc in the iMac and optical drives in the MacBook Air, and adopting new, upcoming technologies earlier than others, pointing to USB support in the first iMac. He described Flash as waning, and said he only wrote the letter after Adobe publicly complained about the lack of Flash support on the iPad.
When questioned about the leak of the fourth-generation iPhone prototype, Jobs said that the product development cycle demands testing, and said there was a question as to whether the Apple employee whose phone ended up in the hands of Gizmodo lost the device or if it was stolen out of his bag. Either way, Jobs called the story amazing, noting that it had theft, the purchase of stolen property, and extortion. He briefly discussed the situation at Foxconn as well, saying that it was not a sweatshop, and said that Apple had representatives on site, and was on top of the situation.
Jobs was also asked about Apple’s increasing competition with Google, and said Apple wasn’t going to kick the company off the iPhone—most likely, but not clearly, referencing Google’s search and Maps services—but did say that Apple wanted to make superior products. In the same line of questioning, Jobs said that AT&T was doing well with their network improvements, although he admitted there might be advantages to having more than one iPhone carrier in the U.S. Jobs defended the company’s stance on app approvals, saying that some developers of rejected applications lie to the press in hopes of getting exposure. Later, he disparaged Google’s mobile ad delivery system when questioned about iAd, and said that Apple takes its users’ privacy very seriously, which has led to some of the iPhone developer agreement changes barring the distribution of users’ device details to analytics services.
Finally, Jobs made several comments about the challenges of TV-connected products, including the difficulty in convincing consumers to purchase an extra box in addition to the subsidized cable company box, and also how partnerships are much more difficult to establish within that market due to the wide range, and regional nature, of cable operators.
Editor’s note: AllThingsD has yet to post video of Jobs’ interview; this article is based off of liveblog accounts from Engadget and AllThingsD. We will update the article with direct quotes and/or corrections, if necessary, following the publication of video.
Update: All Things D has posted a number of videos from Jobs’ interview, including his thoughts on the following topics:
The lost prototype iPhone:
iPhone developer restrictions:
The origin of the iPhone and iPad:
A full selection of videos from the All Things Digital conference is available at videos.allthingsd.com.