An essay asks When did Steve start showing vaporware?
It’s not difficult to suss it out for the iPhone, but so far no one has.
Imagine this scene in the Inner Sanctum of His Steveness at Apple HQ:
Universal Music Group: Yo, Steve Jobs, our iTunes contract is ending real soon. Microsoft is paying us a buck per Zune. And you know that Microsoft always wins too. So why shouldn’t we put you up against the wall for an even larger mugging? Say $1.50 per iPod and you let us have variable track pricing.
Jobs: So Microsoft has the Zune. Is that so?
UMG (smugly): Yep. And Gates is gonna sell a million in a year. Ha! Ha! Ha! The iPod is toast. You know, maybe we won’t even renew that iTunes contract. That’d make Zune sales, um, zume.
Jobs: OK, you go ahead and not renew with us. No, really. But if you change your mind later on, maybe we’ll demand that you pay us to be on iTunes!
Jobs: A million Zoons in a year, huh? And that’s a Very Big Deal to you guys, is it?
UMG (seeing shiny object): Uh, WTF is that?
Jobs: Oh this? (unpinches screen to enlarge photo) You wouldn’t be interested in this. It’s called the iPhone. And it will sell ten million in its first year alone. And, by the way, it’s also an iPod. It plays music. Here, listen!
UMG: … *sound of pants being wet* …
Jobs: Now as for your iTunes contract that’s coming up for renewal…
UMG: Christ, Steve, that’ll be no problem at all. You’ll let us have the same terms, won’tcha, huh, please? Hey, can we get on the waiting list for one of those? iPhone, huh? Very clever name!
Moral of this story: Steve Jobs ain’t no idiot. (And that’s why he’ll now hate me for blowing the whistle! There’s a waiting list for that too, Steve, but you can jump to the top of it for, oh, one iPhone…)