It's becoming less and less unusual for Steve Jobs to personally reply to people who email him with questions regarding a product. However, it's still strange for him to reply multiple times, not to mention engage in a heated debate. Throw in the fact that the person messaging him writes for a publishing house that is currently tangled in a very public legal mess about the next generation iPhone and your chances of getting even one reply are pretty slim.
Ryan Tate, a blogger with Gawker Media has posted a thread of emails sent this past Friday. Tate emailed jobs questioning a claim made in an Apple ad that the device is 'a revolution.' A revolution is about freedom, Tate said. Jobs replied saying the iPad offers freedom from a number of things:
"Yep, freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin', and some traditional PC folk feel like their world is slipping away. It is."
Though the correspondence started out as a question about whether the iPad was a revolution, it quickly transformed into a debate about Apple's decision to omit Flash from the iPad and how that is affecting applications being developed for the tablet.
Tate does eventually divulge that he works for Gawker Media but that doesn't stop Steve from replying.
Check out the full thread below. I've also included Tate's notes on the emails in which he claims it was silly to bring up his wife and criticizes Jobs' "freedom from porn" statement as something that will haunt him.
- There's something absurdly Orwellian about Jobs' line that the iPad provides "freedom from porn." It's a statement I suspect will haunt him.
- My line about Flash and my MacBook Pro is silly; Flash as a Web plugin is, as I myself have written, a resource hog, no matter how well the miraculous battery in my Apple laptop handles that hoggery. There's no telling how Flash might hobble my iPad''s A4 processor. But cross-compiled Flash apps are an entirely different matter: They run as native Objective C code, and Apple has a chance to review them for performance. Apple has never tried to argue that cross-compiled Flash wears batteries down any more quickly than other Objective C code, and in fact approved more than two dozen such apps before changing its policies.
- Speaking of regrettable lines: Why the heck did I bring up my wife in connection with "freedom from porn?" I was trying to say it's a canard that porn somehow harms families, or something terrible and shameful, so I mentioned the other half of my family.
- I was a little unfair summarizing my contact with Time Inc.; the company has not "crowed" about its iPad bridge software, and in fact has plans to iteratively improve its iPad product. That line was based on email exchange that I had with a Time Inc. executive who was speaking off the record and not on behalf of the company. As such, I've blurred a name that I had no business dropping. But I do think, as I said, that a native Objective C app that merely contains magazine content, like Time's, is a lot less exciting than an app that has some real interactivity, even if it's been cross compiled from Flash.