My Question With Steve

By  |  Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Yesterday, I posted about the fact that Steve Jobs usually doesn’t take questions at Apple press events–except when he does. I said that if he did, I’d try to ask a question on behalf of the Technologizer community. You are, apparently, a shy group–lots of folks read that post, but only two piped up with questions.

But the good news is:

A) Steve Jobs, Apple COO Tim Cook, and marketing head Phil Schiller did indeed field questions from the audience;

B) I was the very last person who squeezed one in (Steve greeted me like an old friend–oh, not really, he called me “blue shirt”);

C) I asked a question on behalf of a Technologizer community member thinking that I might not get a real answer–but I did, and it’s one I haven’t seen elsewhere.

The question I asked was a boiled-down version of one posed by community member Patrick:

What are Apple’s plans for touch interfaces into the future? Both track pad and screen based, and across which platforms – phones, laptops and all-in-ones (like iMac).

That felt like several questions, and the Q&A was winding up, so I only tackled part of it: I noted that the new MacBook and MacBook Pro designs obviously show that Apple has put a lot of effort into making its touchpads into more ambitious multi-touch devices. Did that mean that Apple didn’t think that Macs with touchscreen interfaces made sense? (There’s been plenty of discussion of the possibility, including both rumors and idle wishes.)

Jobs noted that Apple has experimented with the idea–not a surprise, since patents show that to be true–and then told me that they don’t make sense so far.

So there you go. It’s Steve Jobs tradition to speak dismissively of ideas up until the moment that Apple embraces them in one form or another, so I don’t take his answer as conclusive proof that Apple won’t release a touch Mac sooner than you might expect. (Although I agree with Steve that there are issues with the idea–actually, I wrote about that awhile back.) But if he’d expressed an opinion on touchscreens for computers in public until now, I hadn’t seen it.

Thank you, Patrick, for the topic of discussion; thank you, Steve, for the answer…

[NOTE: The picture above is not from today; it’s by Matthew Yohe and is borrowed from Wikipedia.]


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5 Comments For This Post

  1. patrickfelstead Says:

    Wow thanks Harry, I wasn’t expecting this when I posted that question yesterday from my office in Adelaide Australia, the internet amazes me sometimes!

    I hope Apple keep prototyping touch technology and develop something special for desktop and notebooks that’s as intuitive to use as the iPhone.

  2. mathiastck Says:

    It would rock if your Mac could run Iphone app’s out of the box. Admittedly the motion sensing would be tricky, I don’t think you’d want to have to tilt your mac, go ahead and just let that functionality fail.

    I’m picturing either a Mac who’s touchpad is a slightly larger the the Iphone’s screen, (to accommodate running apps designed for both portrait and landscape mode), or just a mac with a large touchscreen.

  3. KenC Says:

    Steve called you the guy in the “blue shirt”?!? I thought you were an editor-in-chief of Macworld? How does he not know your name? Or is that some other guy in a “blue shirt” that I”m thinking of?

  4. thehumanyawn Says:

    PC World, not Macworld

  5. Harry McCracken Says:

    I used to be the editor of PC World–no more! We met with Apple many times, but not with Steve himself.

    For the record, I think I first saw Steve demo a product about 1980 or so (it would have been an Apple II variant at the Boston Computer Society). I vividly remember the Boston Computer Society’s east coast premiere of the Apple Lisa, and its east coast premiere of the NeXT–gak, was that more than two decades ago?–is still the most memorable Stevenote I’ve been to. Over the past few years, I’ve been to most Stevenotes (I did, however, miss the original iPhone debut).

    All of which is a roundabout way of getting to my point: If I’ve ever exchanged words with Steve before today, I’ve forgotten about it. So I was neither surprised nor displeased to hear him call me “blue shirt.”


    All of eh

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