The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher recently interviewed Apple CEO Steve Jobs live at the D8 conference in California. Jobs dished on a number of topics, including the iPhone and iPad.Toward the end of the interview, during the Q&A session Jobs was asked the following by an attendee: "Steve, we love our iPhones... but our concern is that we can't make a phone call on it. Is someone working on that? Can we expect something soon?"
What an excellent question.
Jobs replied that Apple is doing all that it can to make the iPhone a better phone, but he also pointed to AT&T as responsible for the iPhone's calling issues. He said, "To make things better, people [AT&T] reallocate spectrum, and they do things like increase the backhaul, so they put in gigabit Ethernet instead of T1... things get worse before they get better. If you believe that, things should be getting a lot better soon! I'm told that a lot of places are getting better certainly by the end of this summer."
Well, millions of AT&T's iPhone customers certainly hope so.
Mossberg questioned Jobs about its new iAd mobile advertising platform. Jobs said in response, "We discovered something -- people are going into apps. They're not just going onto to websites. And people love apps. This is an entirely new thing -- they aren't using search, they're using apps like Yelp. Ads now rip you out of your app, you lose your place. Wouldn't it be great if they didn't do that?"
Jobs indicated that no one else is doing the same thing it is to advertise within the confines of an application. He's definitely correct in that ads can be extremely annoying. I can't tell you how many times I've been in the middle of a game, only to accidentally touch an ad and be whisked out of the game, into my browser, and to an advertisement. That sucks. I surely hope iAd is less intrusive than that.
One of the best nuggets of information came when Mossberg asked Jobs about the iPad. He wanted to know why Apple built the iPhone before the iPad. The answer is, the idea for the iPad came first.
"I had this idea about having a glass display, a multitouch display you could type on," Jobs sai to Mossberg. "I asked our people about it. And six months later they came back with this amazing display. And I gave it to one of our really brilliant UI guys. He then got inertial scrolling working and some other things, and I thought, 'my god, we can build a phone with this' and we put the tablet aside, and we went to work on the phone." That is why Apple built the iPhone first.
Jobs insisted during the interview that the iPad is "magical", a term that has earned Apple and Jobs laughs. Jobs said of the idea behind the iPad, "I remember telling you I thought handwriting was the slowest input method ever. We reimagined the tablet, we didn't do what Microsoft did. They had a totally different idea than us. And that drove everything. Their tablet was based on a PC. It had the battery life, the weight, it needed a cursor like a PC. But the minute you throw a stylus out, you have the precision of a finger, you can't use a PC OS. You have to create it from scratch."
Jobs didn't reveal any new partnerships or products or services, but the interview was well done and informative. Hats off to Mossberg and Swisher for doing such a fine job.