Steve Jobs on mistakes and markets

Steve Jobs took the stage for an interview at the AllThingsD conference Tuesday evening, where he shed light on mistakes made administering the App Store, Foxconn suicides, Flash, and more.

Here are some of the best reports from around the Web:

App Store: "We are guilty as charged of making mistakes."

Daniel Farber, writing at, quotes Jobs on Apple's control over the App Store:

"We have two platforms we support. One is completely open and uncontrolled and that is HTML 5. We support HTML 5. We have the best support for HTML 5 of anyone in the world. We then support a curated platform, which is the App Store."

He then explained the rules: the app has to function as advertised, can't crash and can't use unsupported APIs. Apple also had to come up with an anti-defamation rule, which has created some controversy. Political cartoons by Mark Fiore were banned at first, but later Apple relented. "We are guilty as charged of making mistakes. Nobody has ever done this before," Jobs said.

"Foxconn is not a sweatshop."


When [AllThingsD's Kara] Swisher asked about the recent controversy over a number of suicides at the Shenzhen, China, plant of Apple's overseas manufacturing partner, Foxconn, Jobs responded, "We are on top of this. We look at everything at these companies. I can tell you a few things that we know. And we are all over this. Foxconn is not a sweatshop."

Jobs added, "It's a factory, but my gosh, they have restaurants and movie theaters, but it's a factory. But they've had some suicides and attempted suicides, and they have 400,000 people there. The rate is under what the US rate is, but it's still troubling."

The suicide rate at the Foxconn plant was 13 out of 400,000 employees in the first half of the year, less than the U.S. rate of 11 per 100,000. "We had this in my hometown of Palo Alto," Jobs said, "copy cat suicides. We're over there trying to understand this. It's a difficult situation."

TV: "No one wants to buy a box."

Ross Miller, Engadget:

The problem with innovation in the TV industry is the go to market strategy. The TV industry has a subsidized model that gives everyone a set top box for free. So no one wants to buy a box. Ask TiVo, ask Roku, ask us... ask Google in a few months.

So all you can do is ADD a box to the TV. You just end up with a table full of remotes, a cluster of boxes... and that's what we have today. The only way that's going to change is if you tear up the set top box, give it a new UI, and get it in front of consumers in a way they're going to want it. The TV is going to lose in our eyes until there is a better go to market strategy... otherwise you're just making another TiVo. [you can't just partner with providers because] providers are local... it's a Tower of Babel problem...

PCs: "When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that's what you needed on the farms."


Will tablets replace the trusty PC? "When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that's what you needed on the farms." Cars came along as cities flourished. "PCs are going to be like trucks," Jobs predicted, as other form factors, like the tablet, become the "cars."

Flash: "If the market tells us we're making bad choices, we'll make changes."

Jobs said Apple "doesn't have the resources that everyone else has. We choose which tech horses to ride, we look for tech that has a future and is headed up," according to AppleInsider. He compared Flash to the 3.5-inch optical drive, which Apple popularized, then discontinued (a decision which was also controversial in its day). Similarly, HyperCard was more poular than Flash in its day, but was replaced by the open Web.

"Flash looks like it had its day but it's waning, and HTML looks ike it's coming up," Jobs said.

There's no smartphone shipping with Flash," Jobs said, to which [AllThingsD's Walt] Mossberg responded "but know that there will be." Jobs quipped, "well there 'will be' for the last two or three years. But HTML5 is starting to emerge," the same point Jobs made in his open letter "Thoughts on Flash."

Addressing the "holes" in the web sites where Flash content is not visible on iPhone OS devices, Jobs said, "Those holes are getting plugged... those holes are mostly ads."


Asked if Apple would ever consider putting Flash on the iPad if the market were to demand it and "people say the iPad is crippled," Jobs replied, "Well things are packages. Some things are good in a product, some things are bad. If the market tells us we're making bad choices, we'll make changes.

Apple is selling an iPad every three seconds, Jobs said.

Mitch Wagner is a freelance technology journalist and social media strategist. Follow him on Twitter: @MitchWagner.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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