Funny thing about Apple, getting its PR drones to respond to even a friendly request is like trying to get a straight answer out of an oil company executive. Unless you're named Mossberg, Pogue, Levy, or Baig, all you generally get is the sound of crickets.
Other big companies range from pretty good (Dell, HP) to fair (Google, Microsoft) to awful (Amazon, Facebook) at getting back to those of us with "press" cards tucked into our hat bands, but Apple's contempt for the media is in a class by itself. Yet if you email Steve Jobs directly, you may get a response, usually a terse one-liner telling you you're wrong, but sometimes a lot more.
This is what Valleywag blogger Ryan Tate discovered in the wee hours of Saturday morning when, after getting ticked off by an Apple commercial describing the iPad as "revolutionary," he penned a pointed missive to the Apple CEO.
Three hours later, Jobs responded, initiating a long, sometimes heated, and NSFW email exchange that touched on Apple's refusal to support Flash even in its recompiled form, C++, Apple's Cocoa video technology, the MacBook Pro, the iPhone app store, Wired magazine, Bob Dylan and adult websites.
Per Jobs, the iPad's "revolution" is all about freedom:
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 folks feel like their world is slipping away. It is.
Naturally, the money quote became Jobs promising to deliver a world "free from porn" on the iPad and iPhone (except, of course, for the 17,453,897 XXX sites you can reach using the Safari browser). And if he can't, Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales will step in and finish the job.
Remember, Valleywag is owned by the same blogging empire (so to speak) as Gizmodo, and Gizmodo and Apple are at war over that iPhone 4G prototype that went out for a few beers at a San Jose hofbrau last March and never made it home (eSarcasm has a complete timeline of the events surrounding that story, but I suspect they may be fudging the facts a bit).
At the request of media companies, last Friday a judge unsealed the court documents surrounding that missing 4G (not the one that just went on a walkabout in southeast Asia). Included among them was an email from Gizmodo editor Brian Lam to Jobs, in which Lam notes how "Apple PR has been cold to us lately," so he had to resort to more extreme measures to report on Apple (like paying $5K for a lost iPhone prototype). Join the crowd, Brian.
Lam also compares Gizmodo to Apple in its early days, which is a bit like comparing the young Marilyn Monroe to Ernest Borgnine in a blonde wig. So I imagine Jobs is keeping a particular eye out for emails coming from that neck of the InterWebs, which may be one reason why he engaged with Tate. That, or Steve had drunk a bit too much spirulina smoothie and was spoiling for fight.
Read the emails and I think you'll agree Tate sounds whiney, while Jobs comes off as arrogant but not unreasonable. However, he does zing the young blogger at the end:
As for us, we're just doing what we can to try and make (and preserve) the user experience we envision. You can disagree with us, but our motives are pure.
By the way, what have you done that's so great? Do you create anything, or just criticise others work and belittle their motivations?
The bigger point? Once again, Jobs is bending the rules about how CEOs are "supposed" to act. Heck, he's breaking his own rules about Apple and its penchant for secrecy. It's not exactly revolutionary (for that matter, neither is the iPad) but it's a nice start.