Steve Jobs wanted to 'further lock customers' into Apple's 'ecosystem'

That's according to an e-mail he sent to employees in 2010 that included "2011: Holy War with Google" as a talking point for an upcoming meeting.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
2 min read

Steve Jobs was convinced that if he could tie his company's products together, he'd be successful in locking them into Apple's device line, according to a newly shared e-mail from the late Apple co-founder.

Jobs wrote in an e-mail to employees in October 2010 outlining his itinerary for his company's annual Top 100 meeting -- an event attended only by Apple's top 100 employees to discuss the company's future -- that his goal would be to find a way to connect his firm's products in such a way that customers would have no choice but to stay with Apple.

"Tie all of our products together, so we further lock customers into our ecosystem," Jobs wrote in a bullet list of items he wanted to discuss at Apple's 2011 Top 100 confab.

Jobs' e-mail was disclosed during opening arguments at the Apple-Samsung patent-infringement case in the US District Court in San Jose, Calif. Samsung obtained the e-mails during the Discovery phase of the trial, and promptly brought them before the jury to outline its belief that Apple's real issue is with Google and not Samsung -- a claim Apple has flatly denied.

That Jobs was eyeing ways in which he could "lock customers" into his firm's products is a double-edged sword. From an investor's perspective, keeping customers and forcing them to buy into Apple's products boosts revenue and profits. However, the practice of locking customers into products is a loaded term in the tech world that harkens back to IBM and Microsoft.

IBM was criticized for years over its practices with service agreements and warranties, stipulating that it would not support products that used non-IBM products. Microsoft has been the focus of antitrust debate for decades over Windows and Internet Explorer. Microsoft has also been criticized for its use of proprietary file formats, that some say, aim at keeping customers using its products and no others.

Apple is certainly no stranger to lock-in, either. The company has for years been criticized for its use of proprietary components and file formats, and Jobs' own desire to talk about lock-in adds more fuel to the fire.

Despite the criticism over alleged lock-in practices, they don't appear to be hurting the companies mentioned. All three firms -- Apple, IBM, and Microsoft -- are all posting huge revenue and profit figures and are showing no signs of those dropping significantly anytime soon.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment on the Steve Jobs e-mail. We will update this story when we have more information.

Apple shares are down 50 cents to $541.15 in early trading on Wednesday.