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Full transcript: Steve Jobs did not call Mark Fiore a liar

Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher interviewed Apple, Inc. CEO Steve Jobs during the All Things Digital D8 Conference. A live blog transcript published on Engadget caused a stir when within the transcript it was unclear whether Jobs had called Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Fiore a liar and trying to get his 15 minutes of fame after his app was rejected for the App Store.

Video of the interview has been published. I’ve embedded the video below. The part regarding Mark begins at about 52 minutes in. It’s clear that Jobs was not referring to Mark when he talked about people lying to the press. In face he called Mark a “nice enough guy.” It was unscrupulous application developers who were trying to apply pressure on Apple to approve apps that were not compliant to the app store requirements.

I’ve created a transcript of the exchange regarding Mark. The last paragraph (in bold) by Steve is the part with the meat of the conversation.

WM: I don’t know of any law that says any merchant, whether it’s you or Walmart or CBS or anyone has to carry anything they don’t want to carry, but isn’t there, as you become more and more popular – we started by talking about your market cap – which is a symbol of that and you’re selling every 3 seconds an iPad; there’s responsibility along with that… My question to is – you’ve talked in some things you’ve written about the responsibility to protect your consumers from malware and porn and things like that. Isn’t there a downside of you guys acquiring all this power and saying no to some political cartoonist or no so to some political candidate and also doing it in a black box that at least a lot of people on the outside have trouble understanding what the rules are

SJ: Let me tell you first of all, we have two platforms that we support. One is completely open and uncontrolled and that is HTML5. HTML5 is a set of standards set by independent standards organizations that are widely respected. So HTML5, CSS and stuff like that…

: javascript

SJ: Javascript would a third one. So we support HTML5. We have the best support for HTML5 of anyone in the world in our browsers. And so I think… we support this very completely open uncontrolled platform. Standards based.

We then support a curated platform which is the app store that has over 200,000 apps in it. It’s the most vital applications community on any platform in the world. Today. So how do we curate this? It’s a bunch of people. Just like yo and me. come into work and doing their best every day. We’ve got a few rules. Some of the rules are: the app has to function as advertised, can’t crash, cannot use unsupported APIs because if a bunch of customers buy the app and we upgrade the OS and their using unsupported APIs that break, then the apps break and we have a bunch of unhappy customers. They have to use public APIs only, and those turn out the three biggest reasons we reject apps – is for those three things. We approve 95% of the apps submitted every week – which is many many thousands every week. We approve 95% in seven days.

WM: What happened in these cases of that political candidate who was mad and the cartoonist…

SJ: We had a rule that you can’t defame other people.

WM: That’s in your terms of service for developers?

SJ: Yeah, you can’t defame people.

KS: Determined by people that work at Apple? Correct?

SJ: Yes, but I think it would be determined pretty much universally among rational people, not some strange definition. You can’t defame people. And the problem is political cartoons got caught in that. ‘Cause by definition they defame people. So, we didn’t think of that. That was an untended consequence of a rule that says you can’t defame people. So this guy submits his cartoon late last year – the rule is still in place – he gets rejected. For other reasons we realize that this is an unintended consequence; we change the rule, I think it was in January. Except for political cartoons. The guy never puts his app back in again, he wins a Pulitzer Prize, somebody asks him – he doesn’t actually run to the press; but somebody asks him, “how come this isn’t on the iPhone?” He goes, “Oh I submitted it, they rejected it.” He was a nice enough guy about it; and then these flurious stories get written several months after we changed the rule because we found out about an unintended consequence. So we are guilty as charged of making mistakes. Because nobody ever done this before. Nobody has tried to set rules for 200,000 apps in two years in the most vital app community on any platform before; we’re doing the best we can; we’re learning as fast as we can; we’re changing the rules when it makes sense. But we think it made sense to have a rule that says don’t, you can’t defame people. Because we didn’t want these apps – you know – that did that. We didn’t think that was right. So, we’re doing the best we can; we’re making mistakes; we’re fixing them as fast as we can. And what happens sometime though is that some people, uh, lie. Some people use unpublished APIs and their app gets rejected. Some people submit an app that they say does one thing, but really does something else. They try to hide it from us, they get very clever about that. They try to hide it from us and we find it and we reject it. And they run to the press and tell a story about oppression and it gets written up and they get their 15 minutes of fame because they hope it will convince us to change our minds. It never does, but they keep trying to do that. And it’s unfortunate, but we take it in the chin. That part of what we do. We don’t run to the press and go, “This guys a son of a bitch liar.” That’s just not appropriate for us to do. So we take it in the chin and we move on.

WM: Well if there is a list you want to read out here…

Community Comments

#1 Dave Stephens
June/8/2010
@ 12:51 am

Told ya. ;)

As I said before, Mark Fiore never “ran to the press” at any point. But many highly offended and angry software developers DO run to the press to squawk and moan and LIE about the awful injustice from bad ol’ Apple, which is why I didn’t believe for a second Steve Jobs was talking about Mr. Fiore when THAT line was written…

#2 JP Trostle
June/8/2010
@ 8:51 am

Whatever, dave. Steve’s timeline is still off — as in, their is still no evidence the rules have actually *been* changed (much less in January as he put forth).

Having seen stuff like this before, my guess is the Big Boss made a decision at some point to change something, waved his hand, and declared ‘it is done.’ So while he’s going around saying his company has changed, the order is trickling down thru this massive corporation, gets hung up in legal blah blah blah, and any change won’t be seen for months, or until another pr snafu raises its head.

Whether this happened with Apple as Jobs said, or Steve is retconing the story after the fact is irrelevant at this point.

btw — thank you Alan for tracking this down

#3 Tom Wood
June/8/2010
@ 9:10 am

Remind me again, why will anyone pay for an app when the same content (and a lot more) is available for free on the web?

The Wired Magazine iPad app is basically a collection of image files without any interactivity. I know there are discussions about how people comprehend better when they can’t go off surfing the links. And that the lack of interactivity for something liked the Wired app makes it more like reading the paper version. But this seems like a step backward.

#4 Anne Hambrock
June/8/2010
@ 9:28 am

“Remind me again, why will anyone pay for an app when the same content (and a lot more) is available for free on the web?”

Tom, I have put a review of my ipad addressing this very question over on my blog.

http://edison-lee-blog.blogspot.com/2010/05/its-here.html

If you don’t care to read my full assessment, the short answer is quality. The extra screen resolution available for apps makes them superior to low res free content when it comes to visual imagery.

It remains to be seen if there will be similar benefits to having an app when one is only interested in printed content. Freedom from too many ads would do it for me – I would happily pay for ad free content. Since many other folks would rather put up with the ads and read for free, print publications should probably fully develop multiple platforms, thus chasing every potential revenue stream.

In the short time I’ve owned my ipad, I’ve already found that there are things I prefer to read on the ipad and things I prefer to read on my desktop.

#5 Tom Wood
June/8/2010
@ 10:34 am

Thanks Anne,

I did read your article, and this part confuzzles me a little:

And this is why people are going to pay for comics again. Because, while I could read comics like Edison and Pooch for free on a variety of sites, every image there had to meet the low res and file size limitations required to fit the comic onto a large complicated page filled with bandwidth gobbling content.

Removed from those constraints, the Bizarro and Marvel comics shine in all their RGB color glory.

Isn’t RGB the standard color space for any electronic device? If it’s a matter of screen and/or image resolution, isn’t that solvable with the move to constantly higher specifications?

I guess my point is, if Dell or HP come out with high resolution tablets that surf the web like a regular PC, and websites use higher resolution images as broadband gets faster, there’s still going to be a lot more going for the open web than an app. Unless I’m missing something here, which is just as possible ;-)

#6 Dave Stephens
June/8/2010
@ 11:30 am

If Dell or HP comes out with a tablet based on a NON touch OS like Windows, people will buy them like they bought all of their past tablets – I.E., they WON’T. Higher resolution won’t make the Windows OS work with touch.

#7 Anne Hambrock
June/8/2010
@ 2:22 pm

@Tom

I am not allowed to color Edison using RGB – even though it will be seen on computers. Because of the constraints of the print industry I have to work in CMYK. Not only that, while I work in 256 colors, it gets knocked down to 32 to keep the file size manageable. I probably misspoke and should have used the comparison of 256 to 32 rather than RGB and CMYK. Sorry for the confusion.

The point I wanted to make most in my review is that everything about syndicated comics is sharper in an app than it is when bundled with other bandwidth gobbling content.

I make the distinction “syndicated comics” because I have no knowledge of the parameters the webcomic guys can work in. I can only speak about the constraints our comic faces.

I have always maintained that people pay for two things – convenience and quality. So far, the graphics on my ipad have had superior quality and the experience of acquiring content has been pretty inexpensive and convenient.

There will always be a part of the market that values free above everything but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the market that doesn’t.

I remember a lot of griping when webcomics.com went behind a paywall and folks said their audience would shrink. From accounts here and on podcasts I’ve heard, people love the site and think it’s worth the $.

Paying for stuff is all wrapped up in your perception of whether or not it’s worth it.

For me – with the apps – so far, anyway – it is.

#8 Dave Stephens
June/8/2010
@ 3:51 pm

The same silly argument was used when iTunes started selling music… LOL

Those that only want FREE still find music.
But those that prefer to pay finally had a choice…

#9 Tom Wood
June/8/2010
@ 5:16 pm

@Anne – Thanks, I understand now. I’m deep into InDesign and CMYK now for work publications after doing web only for the comic.

@Dave – But Shirley Dell/HP wouldn’t make the mistake of trying non-touch screens again?

#10 Dave Stephens
June/8/2010
@ 7:13 pm

Tablets failed because the STYLUS interface was KLUDGED into a mouse driven OS, i.e., Windows.
They will still fail if a TOUCH interface is KLUDGED into a mouse driven interface.

Apple wrote an entirely new operating system and designed it around their own, patented super-sensitive touch interface. Unless Dell/HP write their own OS, it’s just going to be another kludgy cluster#$%*@…

It’s not the Apple Kool Aid, it’s the OS.

#11 Tom Wood
June/8/2010
@ 8:01 pm

@Dave – Android?

#12 Dave Stephens
June/9/2010
@ 2:35 am

My point exactly – Google DID write an OS centered around touch. It’s years behind Apple in terms of ease of use and it’s way more crash-prone, but overall it’s the industries most solid and well reasoned accomplishment next to the iPhone. It’s more than a little kludgy and the engineers are clearly not as interested as Apple in simplifying the interface, but I’d recommend Android in a heartbeat to any one who can’t or won’t use AT&T. Dell and HP would be wise to adopt it, but the question is, “Will they?”

#13 Tom Wood
June/9/2010
@ 6:54 am

Yep

Dell press release

Today, Dell released plans for Streak, a 5-inch Android?-based Tablet designed to provide people the best ?on-the-go? entertainment, social connection, and navigation experience.

A bigger one is in the works.

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