Fortune interviews Jobs on iPod, iPhone, Apple TV

Fortune has published a series of excerpts from an interview with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, covering a broad range of topics including the iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV. Worth reading in their entirety, the excerpts include several interesting details on each of Apple’s major initiatives, such as:

iPod. Before the iPod, Jobs explained, slow Mac sales had led Apple to a crisis of confidence; the company had to “wonder sometimes whether [we were] wrong,” said Jobs. “Maybe our stuff isn’t better, although we thought it was. Or maybe people don’t care, which is even more depressing.” Strong iPod sales were “a great shot in the arm for everybody.”

iPhone. After an extended period of living with the originally designed enclosure for the iPhone, Jobs concluded that he didn’t “love” the shell, an emotion that he would need to feel for what he believed was the company’s most important release ever. “[W]e pushed the reset button. We went through all of the zillions of models we’d made and ideas we’d had.” And, with too little time remaining before the device’s announcement, he challenged the designers to do better, quickly. “It was hell because we had to go to the team and say, ‘All this work you’ve [done] for the last year, we’re going to have to throw it away and start over, and we’re going to have to work twice as hard now because we don’t have enough time.’ “

Apple TV. Jobs suggests that the original version of Apple TV failed because people didn’t really want to send iTunes content from a Mac or PC to a widescreen TV; they wanted, he says, to watch movies—the reason the company negotiated with Hollywood studios for rentals, and dropped the starting price to $229. “Will this resonate and be something that you just can’t live without and love? We’ll see. I think it’s got a shot.”

Control. Being able to write and control software is, Jobs explained, the key to the company’s current and future product plans. “[W]e didn’t want to get into any business where we didn’t own or control the primary technology because you’ll get your head handed to you.”

On PDAs. Despite years of pressure to release a Newton-like PDA, Jobs said that the company was smarter not to release such a product. “I realized one day that 90% of the people who use a PDA only take information out of it on the road. They don’t put information into it. Pretty soon cellphones are going to do that, so the PDA market’s going to get reduced to a fraction of its current size, and it won’t really be sustainable.” Instead, Jobs said, the company put its efforts and resources into the iPod.

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