Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak on Apple Without Steve Jobs, Jailbreaking, Patent Wars & More

BY Jason

Published 2 Oct 2012

Steve Wozniak – Apple’s co-founder took some time out to answer questions from Slashdot’s readers on topics ranging from his feelings about Apple, if the company can survive and/or flourish without Steve Jobs, on our favorite topic – jailbreaking, the patent wars and lots more.

Here’s what he had to say when he was asked what he feels about Apple:

Apple’s real rise from the small market-share Macintosh company to the iProducts of today began with iTunes and the iPod. This turned out to be a 2nd huge business which roughly doubled Apple’s ‘size’. If you remember, we ported iTunes to Windows. We now addressed 100% of the world’s market with this integrated system (iPod/iTunes) and it began the era of Apple that we are now in. So why don’t we port iTunes to Android? Did something get closed up? I love Apple products and iTunes and wish it were on my Android products too.

I don’t have time to get into this far because I’m in the middle of 5 conference calls today and have a ton of engineering submissions to judge for an award and some iPhones to exchange so I’m sorry if things are going slowly here on Slashdot.

He also commented about jailbreaking when he was asked about closed versus open platform:

There is no one right opinion. I’m for more openness. I believe that you can create the best most innovative products even when they are open. But I could be wrong. Open products tend to seem more complex. I suggest that maybe 80% of us or more are technophobes and scared to admit how little we know. I’m thinking of our moms and dads a lot in this thought. Apple is the safest haven for them not to get confused.

So much of me lies in the Linux and open source thinking. It’s where I’d be if I were young and finding my technology way. Some say that Apple iPhones are closed but there is a different view. They are closed as to methods of sale and delivery. You can create any app you want to and have the ability to on your own on the iPhone. You just can’t distribute it to huge numbers of people outside the app store of Apple. So young developers are not hindered totally. Yeah, on Android you can do anything for fun and announce it to the whole world and that’s very motivating. So keep it up. I have always given my support to the jailbreak community because they remind me of myself when I met Steve Jobs and how we were, then and for the years leading to Apple.

On Apple’s chance of survival and flourishing without Steve Jobs, Woz said:

Who knows? Back then we knew how to make good new versions of our computers to satisfy the needs of our Macintosh market. But we didn’t do radically different things until the iMac. We should keep a watch for Apple returning to just milking its existing markets and not astounding us with new categories of products, or totally astounding ones. There is always a danger. And my personal opinion is that if it goes sour, it might have gone sour with Jobs there so conclusions should not be drawn. That is not constructive for Apple.

Apple was a one product company back then. Now we are very diversified and strong. If one product suffers we can recover based on the income and profits from our other sectors. We have computers, laptops, iTunes, iPods, retail stores, online Apple Store, iPhones, iPads [and Apple TV?]. We also have a strong culture of innovation that is well understood, not only by those in control but by our customers, who set a lot of our direction in terms of their expectations.

Woz also commented on the patent war between Apple and its rivals:

I wish that instead of all these lawsuits Apple was sitting down and cross-licensing with the other players. They have come up some very good features without complicating the UI. Things like a palm swipe to take a screen snapshot. I would like my iPhone to be the best it could, even if someone else did some of the things first. And Apple could license iTunes perhaps, or help the other platforms develop it. The market shares would probably remain the same but we consumers would all win.

And here’s where he thinks the iPhone is going:

It’s wrong to look back. It’s not scientific and testable. But I saw for the last few years one small screen in the midst of a lot of large screen and felt myself, as countless others must have, that the larger screens had more value. Blame me for taking the leeway to suggest that this was the one door Apple left wide open. iPhones are not inferior to other smartphones, and the cost is similar. iOS 6 is not inferior to Android. We could all get by with either of them. I never said this sort of thing about Windows. So there has to be some reason that Apple lost so many sales to other products. It may not be screen size as much as the number of players and products in the market. But are we saying the rest of the world has better marketing than Apple?

[..] The app store has changed our lives. We depend on Apple leadership. Most of the software I feel is in apps. You speak of iOS becoming less relevant as though other platforms are as good but I think of it more in terms of the fact that for all major platforms, there are more than enough apps and they are generally the same quality on each platform.

It’s better to think constructively about what can be done with our mobile platforms to improve our lives more, rather than trying to throw darts and insults.

It’s always great to hear from Woz. If you’re a fan of Woz, then you should head over to Slashdot to read the entire Q&A session.