The Correspondence of Steve Jobs

Nine very brief missives from a very busy man.

By  |  Monday, April 19, 2010 at 2:09 am

September 2008

The developer of an anti-George Bush app is unhappy to have it rejected by Apple’s App Store:

Dear Steve,

A quick note to let you know what kinds of apps are being rejected for the App Store.

This app is not defamatory, harmful or speaking untruth. It is lighthearted and humorous. Does it imply critique? Of course it does, but not without crossing any lines of decency or the boundaries agreement.

For a quick screen shot:

Alec Vance
juggleware llc

Jobs replies:

Even though my personal political leanings are democratic, I think this app will be offensive to roughly half our customers. What’s the point?


Aftermath: This strikes me as one of Jobs’ more revealing responses–I’m not sure if Apple has ever formally stated that it may reject apps for fear they’ll annoy its customers. The company is still skittish about satire, having rejected the app of the 2010 Pulitzer winner for political cartooning–but a recent piece of Stevemail says that was a mistake.

October 2008

Apple, which invented and championed FireWire, drops it from the 13″ MacBook, ticking off a lot of people:

Hi Steve,

Just wanted to let you know that even though I’ve been a die-hard Apple fan for years when friends who are drooling over the new MacBooks ask me if it’s a good investment, I’m going to have to tell them a definite “NO” since it doesn’t have a FireWire port. As a selling point, I used to tell friends: “you can easily connect your digital camcorder and edit your own movies!” Now I’ll just tell them that Dell and Sony still make affordable laptops that have a firewire connection, and that they’d probably be better off with one of those.


[name withheld]

Jobs replies:

Actually, all of the new HD camcorders of the past few years use USB 2.


Aftermath: Steve may have been dismissive, but FireWire partisans got their way. In a rare (unprecedented?) reversal of a decision to retire a technology, Apple brought FireWire back to its 13″ laptop in June of 2009.

November 2009

Faced with a nastygram from Apple legal, a Mac developer tries for a Hail Mary:

Dear Mr. Jobs,

My name is John Devor and I’m the co-owner of a small Mac shareware company named The Little App Factory and a long-term Apple customer and shareholder. I doubt you’re aware but we recently received a letter from a law firm working on Apple’s behalf instructing us that we had violated several of Apple’s trademarks in our application iPodRip and asking us to cease using the name and Apple trademarks in our icons.

We have been distributing iPodRip since 2003 with the aim of providing a method to recover music, movies and photos from iPods and iPhones in the event of a serious hardware failure on their Mac which leads to data loss. Our goal has been to provide the highest quality product coupled with the highest quality service in a bid to resolve some of the angst that is generated by such an ordeal; service befitting of an Apple product. In this department we think we have succeeded as we have approximately 6 million customers, many Apple employees, music artists and other notable people in society. In fact I’d argue that our customer service is the best of all competing applications in our niche as many of them are scams and frauds that leave Apple customers with a terrible taste in their collective mouths. We fear very much that tens of thousands of Apple customers looking to recover their own music and having heard of our product via word-of-mouth or otherwise, will instead find a product produced by one of our competitors, and will wind up the victim of a scam (one closely-named competitor charges a hidden monthly fee, for instance).

It is quite obvious that we mean Apple no harm with the use of the name iPodRip, or of the inclusion of trademarked items in our icons, and in fact I believe that we have been providing an excellent secondary service to Apple customers that has potentially caused you many repeat clients. In fact, we are quite aware that Apple support and store staff have recommended our software on numerous occasions as far back as 2004 so we have felt that we were doing something right!

With this in mind, we are in desperate need of some assistance and we beseech you to help us to protect our product and our shareware company, both of which we have put thousands upon thousands of hours of work into. Our company goal is to create Mac software of the highest quality with the best user experience possible. I myself dropped out of school recently to pursue a path in the Mac software industry, and you yourself have been a consistent inspiration for me. If there is anything at all you can do with regards to this matter, we would be most grateful.

Best, John Devor

Jobs replies:

Change your apps name. Not that big of a deal.


Sent from my iPhone

Aftermath: Once Steve has brushed you off, there’s no court of last resort–so iPod Rip became iRip. Lesson: Don’t use the name of an Apple product in your product’s name–even if Apple has been known to forget to get permission for trademark usage itself.

Know of any other Jobs correspondence prior to 2010 that’s worth revisiting?




1 Comments For This Post

  1. Amie Finton Says:

    If there is one person in this world that I have really admired, that was Steve Jobs. I even cried the whole day when he died. Call that an exaggeration but I really admire and salute Steve Jobs for all the inventions he has created.

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