Steve Jobs reportedly thought TVs a 'terrible business'

Before resigning as CEO, the Apple co-founder told key employees that he didn't think Apple should get into the business because of its poor margins, according to a new book.

End of the Apple TV rumors? CNET

Never mind those years of persistent rumors and speculation: Steve Jobs was reportedly not in favor of Apple producing a television set.

Rumors that Apple had an Internet-connected TV set in the works have floated around since 2009, including one analyst predicting that Apple would produce a TV set by the end of 2012 or early 2013. However, during a 2010 meeting just months before Jobs' resignation as CEO, the Apple co-founder told key staff members that he didn't think Apple would ever release a television set because of the poor margins and upgrade history, according to a new book set to be released Tuesday.

In "Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs," former Wall Street Journal reporter Yukari Iwatani Kane describes how the question of whether Apple would ever produce a TV set came up during the company's annual "Top 100," a gathering of those deemed to be Apple's top 100 executives, managers, and employees. According to excerpts of Kane's book printed Sunday by Business Insider, Jobs had encouraged those in attendance to ask him any question about the company, regardless of "how dumb it is or how insulting it is."

Apparently emboldened by Jobs, one employee took the opportunity to ask if the company would soon release an Apple TV set.

With no hesitation, according to Kane, Jobs said, "No."

"TV is a terrible business," Jobs said, per Kane's account. "They don't turn over and the margins suck."

That episode appears to contradict details revealed in the 2011 biography titled "Steve Jobs," in which Walter Isaacson indicated that Jobs hoped to change the TV industry in much the same way he transformed the computing, music, and telecommunications industries:

He very much wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant.

"I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,' he told me. "It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud." No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. "It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."

Kane reports that some people in the employee meeting believed Jobs' comments, while some company "veterans" in the room weren't convinced that he was being entirely honest. However, Business Insider notes that it has been more than three years since Jobs made those comments and Apple has yet to release a TV set.

 

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